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Crocs, Geeks, and Stupidity 2006 August 1

Posted by Lily in Randomness, Society & Culture, TV/Movies.

TiVo recorded something about Sarchosuchus, a giant 30-to-40-foot crocadile that lived 110 million years ago. Paul Serreno, a palentologist at the University of Chicago, thought it would be a good idea to study live crocs to understand their fossilized cousin. Now, those of you who watch the Discovery Channel on a frequent basis know where this is going: a group of 5 or 8 men grab the animal with ropes, then sit on her, and put tape over her eyes before her put them in a pickup truck and take her to the lab.

My question is this: why don’t they get rope, shoot a tranquilizer into the animal while she’s still in the water, and then pull her out, wrap up her muzzle, and put her in the pickup truck?

Now, because tranqs were developed on mammals, I can understand why that approach may not work. However, if tranqs are ineffective, there’s still another, natural substitute you can use: lactic acid. The documentary noted that crocs produce far more lactic acid much more quickly than most mammals, which is why they didn’t have to restrain the animal after a certain point. But if that’s the case, doesn’t it make more sense to just let the animal thrash around in the water for a little while longer until he tuckers himself out, then drag him out and secure him?

My tentative hypothesis is that it’s a combination of machismo and being at the bottom of the scientific hierarchy: they’re just a bunch of geeky guys who want to prove to themselves that they are even manlier than the nerds upstairs in the physics department.