Before someone corrects me, yes, I know that crocodiles aren’t lizards (they’re in different orders of reptiles), but the title of the post will resonate with you if you’re “of a certain age,” as they say.
TheYouTube notes give the location, and I’m not sure how I feel about keeping crocs in captivity and having them do tricks for people. I suspect, though, that, being sedentary, they don’t suffer from this as much as do beluga whales, porpoises, or orcas:
Thanks to http://www.crocosauruscove.com in Darwin, Australia. You can feed crocodiles, swim with crocodiles, and get really up close to them. Feeding them using a fishing rod is a really unique experience, as you can see they can jump completely out of the water.
The behavior is surprising, though. Given that they probably never do this in nature, it must be something of a spandrel (a byproduct of another evolved behavior), supported by the observation that they seem to leap by making swimming motions.
Further notes by Greg Mayer
These are saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) at Crocosaurus Cove, a reptile zoo in Darwin, Northern Territory. “Salties” are known for their ability to jump vertically, but this is the only film in which I’ve seen them completely clear the water. (There’s a possibility that the crocodile whose tail left the water may have been hanging on to a “fishing” line, and thus been partially pulled up, but although no segment shows both the head and the tail out of water simultaneously, I think they are actually leaving the water on their own.) The usual context for seeing these vertical leaps by salties are by wild crocodiles which have become habituated to the presence of tour boats and the food proffered from them.
“Brutus”, said to be 5.5 m long, is much larger than the crocs in the film, and I don’t think he would be able to leave the water completely. (You can judge the size of a saltie by the shape of the head– they start out narrow, and get relatively broader and more massive as they get bigger.)
The way the crocs jump is by using their standard swimming motion: lateral undulation, legs tucked in, with the tail providing most of the propulsion. In jumping, they swim straight up (instead of more horizontally), and develop enough head of steam to partially or entirely break the water surface. Jerry supposes that they never do this in nature, but I’m not so sure. A number of crocodilians are known to skulk around waterbird rookeries, eating the birds that may fall out of the trees into the water, and there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t jump up to grab a bird as well. Here’s a photo of a Nile crocodile going after a grey heron from the National Geographic photo contest. (But note: the water that this Nile croc is in is much shallower, and it may be pushing off with its feet rather than its tail.)
h/t: Matthew Cobb