Maria Ny Designs Home
About Maria Ny Designs
Breaking News
Online Portfolio
Writing Samples

Contact Maria Ny

Crocodiles cry over their victims. Animal fact or fiction?

Click the button next to your choice. Then, click the "GO" button to see how you did.

Fact
Fiction

Nope, sorry! It is true that crocodilians produce tears. They are secreted from glands that are similar to human tear ducts, called lacrimal glands. The tears help keep the eye clean and lubricate the nictitating membrane. They are most noticeable when a crocodilian has been out of the water for some time and its eyes are drying out.

Regarding the "crying" behavior while eating, there are several scientific explanations, including:

  1. Kent Vliet of the University of Florida says that crocodiles hiss and huff a lot while feeding. As a result, he believes that the air forced through the sinuses may mix with tears in the crocodiles' lacrimal, or tear, glands emptying into the eye.
  2. "The general contraction of jaw muscles during the bite reflex may help to squeeze tears out of the lacrimal glands [and] ducts," said croc expert Adam Britton, founder of the informational Web site Crocodilian.com.
  3. "[Another] explanation is that accumulated tears that well up below the eye are simply displaced and run down the jaws when the crocodile moves its head to eat, and it's easy to associate that 'crying' with eating."

While crocodilians do produce tears, it's only a myth that they use tears to lure their victims or cry over them while eating them. The origin of this myth was traced by natural historians to a 13th Century French encyclopedia written by the Franciscan monk Bartholomaeus Anglicus.

This myth is probably how the old saying "crying crocodile tears" originated. The saying refers to someone shedding tears and pretending to be upset, yet their emotions aren't genuine. There's even a medical condition that refers to crocodile tears: the Crocodile tears syndrome, an uncommon consequence of recovery from Bell's palsy where faulty regeneration of the facial nerve causes sufferers to shed tears while eating.

Click here to read more about crocodilians, the family under which crocodiles are categorized.

[ More Animal Fact or Fiction ]

You're right! Good job! While crocodilians do produce tears, it's only a myth that they use tears to lure their victims or cry over them while eating them. The origin of this myth was traced by natural historians to a 13th Century French encyclopedia written by the Franciscan monk Bartholomaeus Anglicus.

It is true that crocodilians produce tears. They are secreted from glands that are similar to human tear ducts, called lacrimal glands. The tears help keep the eye clean and lubricate the nictitating membrane. They are most noticeable when a crocodilian has been out of the water for some time and its eyes are drying out.

Regarding the "crying" behavior while eating, there are several scientific explanations, including:

  1. Kent Vliet of the University of Florida says that crocodiles hiss and huff a lot while feeding. As a result, he believes that the air forced through the sinuses may mix with tears in the crocodiles' lacrimal, or tear, glands emptying into the eye.
  2. "The general contraction of jaw muscles during the bite reflex may help to squeeze tears out of the lacrimal glands [and] ducts," said croc expert Adam Britton, founder of the informational Web site Crocodilian.com.
  3. "[Another] explanation is that accumulated tears that well up below the eye are simply displaced and run down the jaws when the crocodile moves its head to eat, and it's easy to associate that 'crying' with eating."

The crocodile tear myth is probably how the old saying "crying crocodile tears" originated. The saying refers to someone shedding tears and pretending to be upset, yet their emotions aren't genuine. There's even a medical condition that refers to crocodile tears: the Crocodile tears syndrome, an uncommon consequence of recovery from Bell's palsy where faulty regeneration of the facial nerve causes sufferers to shed tears while eating.

Click here to read more about crocodilians, the family under which crocodiles are categorized.

[ More Animal Fact or Fiction ]