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8 of the smallest animals of their kind

By: Katherine Butler on Sept. 26, 2011, 8:43 a.m.
Musky caiman crocodile

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Musky caiman crocodile

Crocodiles are generally among the most feared creatures on land and water, but this particular crocodile may not inspire terror due to its size. But don't be fooled; the musky caiman of South America can back up its bite. Patrolling freshwater riverbeds, lakes and small steams, the smallest of all crocodiles, also known as Paleosuchus palpebrosus, reaches maximum lengths of only about 4 1/2 feet in males. It also contains a heavily ossified armor which experts believe might compensate for its short stature. It is known to feast mostly on invertebrates and fish.