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Smooth-Fronted Dwarf Caiman

Paleosuchus trigonatus

Range

  • The Amazon and Orinoco Basins in South America

Habitat

  • Freshwater rivers and shallow streams

Diet

  • Fish
  • Snakes
  • Large rodents

That’s not a baby alligator; it’s a dwarf caiman, the second smallest species of crocodilian.

Instead of seeking sun-baked banks like some larger kin, a dwarf caiman hides in shady rivers deep in the rainforest from anaconda, jaguars, and other predators. Its skin is heavily armored with many more osteoderms (bony protective plates in the skin) than most other crocodilians have which also helps to protect it.

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