CNN / Vladimir Dinets

New Research Reveals Crocodiles Use Sticks To Hunt Birds

A new study shows that crocodilian species use cunning hunting techniques and "tools" to catch prey.

By John O'Connor | December 6, 2013

As if crocodiles weren't terrifying enough, a new study reveals the deadly reptiles may be smarter than we think. 

New research published in the scientific journal Ethology, Ecology and Evolution shows that crocodilian species employ previously undocumented cunning hunting techniques — one of which is using sticks as "lures." (Via National Geographic)

Yes, that's right. The study explains some crocodiles and American alligators " ... gather sticks on their snouts and then lie still in the water. When a bird seeks a perch or tries to grab one of those sticks to make a nest, the croc lunges quickly. It usually ends badly for the bird." (Via CNN)

Science World Report explains the research has been several years in the making and marks the first documented use of tools by a reptile. Vladimir Dinets, a scientist involved in the study, says he first spotted the behavior in 2007. 

"They are typically seen as lethargic, stupid and boring, but now they are known to exhibit flexible multimodal signaling, advanced parental care and highly coordinated group hunting tactics."

​Dinets also said the research is particularly interesting because crocs are from a sister taxon of dinosaurs and prehistoric flying reptiles. 

That means the crocs' family tree is closely related to dinosaurs, which could indicate that dinosaurs also may have been more clever than we previously gave them credit for, and may have used tools to lure prey themselves. (Via Animal Planet

So if 15 foot-long crocs use sticks to catch birds, what did the 40 foot-long Tyrannosaurus Rex use to catch pterodactyls? Logs? I guess we can only imagine for now. 

  TRENDING IN Sci/Health NEWS
Running back Tony DorsettWATCHLIST
Hans Holbein the Younger / Getty Images

What King Henry VIII And Some NFL Players Might Have In Common

Adélie penguins in Antartica.WATCHLIST
Eli Duke / CC BY 2.0

Giant Iceberg Traps Penguin Colony, Killing 150,000 Birds

An artist's rendition of the European Space Agency's Philae lander.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / ESA

Philae Lander Is Likely Silent Forever On The Dark Side Of A Comet

High school and middle school teachers might not know the best way to teach their students about global warming, according to a recent study.WATCHLIST
Mikael Miettinen / CC BY 2.0

Apparently, Teachers Aren't Sure How To Teach Climate Change

A mom breast-feeding at the Melbourne Zoo.WATCHLIST
Elizabeth Hunt Burrett

Breast-Feeding Mom Shares Moment With Orangutan At The Zoo

A group of cyclists travel through thick smog in China.WATCHLIST
Getty Images

Severe Air Pollution Might Have Killed Millions Worldwide

Aedes aegypti mosquitos.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Mario Tama

Hawaii Governor Signs Emergency Measure To Fight Zika Virus

Heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are displayed.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Scott Olson

Want To Get Your Research Paper Some Press? Tie It To Valentine's Day

A person praying.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Chung Sung-Jun

Belief In A 'Punishing' God Might've Helped Societies Get Bigger

IKO Creative prosthetic systemWATCHLIST
IKO

Kids Might Build Their Prostheses With Lego Bricks In The Future

A group of children play at The Little Gym.WATCHLIST
Parker Knight / CC BY 2.0

Ending Racism Means Integrating Daycare

Scientist working at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Dan Kitwood

A New Group Is Dedicated To Double-Checking Scientists' Work

A row of antibiotic pill bottlesWATCHLIST
Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Looking To The Ocean Floor For New Antibiotics

Gravitational waves in a simulation of two black holes mergingWATCHLIST
NASA

What's So Exciting About Gravitational Waves?

Compared to the rest of the national budget, NASA's funding is tiny.WATCHLIST
NASA, Newsy / Evan Thomas

What NASA Would Fund With Its Tiny $19B Wish List

Asian Elephant in IndiaWATCHLIST
Thangaraj Kumaravel / CC BY 2.0

Why Are Elephants Wandering Into Indian Towns?

Gravitational waves from two stars mergingWATCHLIST
NASA

Einstein Was Right: Scientists Just Showed Gravitational Waves Exist

More than 3,400 kids reportedly swallowed batteries in 2010, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.WATCHLIST
yoppy / CC BY 2.0

Parents Share Horror Stories After Toddlers Swallow Button Batteries

A video of a man reading while eating.WATCHLIST
Videoblocks

High School Degree, Healthy Heart Might Lower Your Risk For Dementia

Artist rendering of newly researched galaxies.WATCHLIST
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

Hundreds Of Galaxies Were Hiding Behind The Milky Way

Medical MarijuanaWATCHLIST
Getty Images / David McNew

Medical Marijuana Might Be Legalized In Australia Really Soon

A man kisses his horse.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Julian Herbert

Researchers Say Horses Can Recognize Our Facial Expressions

With so many working to fix racial bias in adults, we spoke with a neuroscience researcher who says we may need to focus our attention on kids instead In this file photograph taken on March 20, 2007, a two-week-old boy finds his feet in his new world. Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced, April 3, 2007 that for the first time, mothers-to-be will have a guarantee that the NHS will provide them with a full range of birthing choices - including home births - and a midwife they know and trust to care for them. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Christopher Furlong

Why Fixing Racial Biases Starts With Babies

Senior citizens walk along Llandudno Promenade on September 8, 2014 in Llandudno, Wales.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Christopher Furlong

Why Live Forever? Life Is Long Enough

Senior citizens relax on Llandudno Promenade on September 8, 2014 in Llandudno, Wales.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Christopher Furlong

Want To Live Forever? We Should Cure Aging

The box is filled with vegetables that are still good to eat, but might look a little odd from the outside. They're being sold at a cheap price.WATCHLIST
ASDA

Store Hopes 'Wonky Veg Box' Will Reduce Waste Of Imperfect Vegetables

A little girl poses for a photograph next to a stranded sperm whaleWATCHLIST
Getty Images / Ben Pruchnie

Scientists Offer Theory As To What Killed 30 Sperm Whales

The CRAM (compressible robot with articulated mechanisms) from the PolyPEDAL Lab at UC Berkeley.WATCHLIST
University of California, Berkeley / PolyPEDAL Lab

Cockroach-Inspired Robot Can Squeeze Into Some Tight Spaces

A rare albino green sea turtle leaves its nest.WATCHLIST
Facebook / Coolum District Coast Care Group

Surprise! This Baby Green Turtle Isn't Green At All

Aedes aegypti mosquitos are seen in a lab at the Fiocruz institute on January 26, 2016 in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Mario Tama

The White House Is Asking For $1.8B To Counter The Zika Virus