Africa Gabon Research Science Weekend Wildlife

Orange African crocodiles may be mutating species

A group of mysterious orange crocodiles who live in complete darkness in Africa may be mutating into a new species. Researchers discovered the 1.5-metre-long (5 ft) reptiles in 2008 in a remote cave in Gabon, central Africa, where they fed only on bats and crickets.

Experts first thought they were a type of African dwarf crocodile, but new research shows they could be an entirely separate species.

Scientists led by the Institute of Research for Development in Marseille found about 30 specimens in the cave, including 10 orange crocodiles.

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They suspect more crocodiles remain hidden in the depths of the cave’s system of rooms, which are filled with water.

The team said new genetic tests show the isolated group may be branching off from their African dwarf cousins.

‘We could say that we have a mutating species, because [the cave crocodile] already has a different [genetic] haplotype,’ lead researcher Dr Richard Oslisly said.

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