Largest Crocodilians

The maximum length of crocodilians is the subject of a large amount of exaggeration and misinformation. The vast majority of historical "records" have no evidence for their accuracy, particularly the most outlandish records. One of the most famous "records" is of a crocodile referred to as "Krys the Croc" from the Norman River along the Gulf of Carpenteria in western Queensland. It is claimed that this crocodile was killed in 1957 and measured a ridiculous 8.64 meters in length. A "life sized replica" is currently a tourist attraction in the town of Normanton. Like so many sensationalist claims of abnormally large crocodiles, absolutely no evidence exists for this animal's size. A photo that has been circulated online and is claimed to show Krys is clearly much older than the 1950s and actually shows a crocodile that was killed in 1914 along the Roper River in the Northern Territory. This crocodile is also not a record sized animal, but rather a bloated animal photographed using forced perspective (see below).

There are many other outsized records with virtually no evidence supporting them. In early 1890 a man named Edward Avery McIlhenny, who was a well known teller of tall tales, claimed to have killed an American alligator measuring 5.84 meters in length. No photos or other evidence was ever provided for this alligator's existence. With alligator populations in the United States now fully recovered in many areas and extensive knowledge regarding alligator maximum sizes, it is obvious that this "record" is nothing more than fantasy. The largest alligator ever reliably measured was a 4.5 meter individual killed in Alabama in 2014. For more information on this animal, please read this paper by Brunell et al. that was published in 2015.

The truth is that only two crocodilians have ever been measured at lengths of 6 meters or more and both of these animals were saltwater crocodiles. The first was a 6.2+ meter animal that drowned in a fishing net at Obo village along the Fly River in Papua New Guinea in 1980. This crocodile's skin was measured at 6.2 meters by Rom Whitaker and was likely a tad larger owing to the fact that it had lost a small portion of its tail and had been salted and dried. The second was a crocodile named Lolong who was captured in the Agusan Marsh of Mindanao in the Philippines in 2011. This crocodile measured 6.17 meters in length. While other large crocodiles have been measured, none were of 6 meters or greater. Bujang Senang, the famous man-eating crocodile from the Batang Lupar River in Sarawak, Malaysia, was also an exceptionally large crocodile, measuring 5.87 meters in length when he was killed in 1992. There also exists a 76 cm saltwater crocodile skull from an animal that was killed in Cambodia at some point during the 18th Century. Using Lolong's head to body length ratios, this animal could have approached 7 meters in length, but without the rest of the crocodile's body this cannot be confirmed. For this reason, the saltwater crocodile's maximum size is listed as 7 meters.

It is possible, but not confirmed, that other species are capable of reaching 6 meters in length. Nile crocodiles are more heavy bodied than saltwater crocodiles of equal size, which leads to exaggeration of size from inexperienced observers. The largest Nile crocodiles that have confirmed measurements are under 5.5 meters in length. While there are recent records of hunters that have claimed animals of 5.7 meters in length, without evidence these records are suspect. Currently, there is no evidence for the presence of Nile crocodiles over 5.5 meters in length. The Tomistoma/false gharial and Indian gharial are two other species that could potentially reach or exceed 6 meters in length, particularly owing to their longer snouts. The largest crocodilian skull on record for a living species was 84 cm and belonged to a Tomistoma. The American crocodile and the Orinoco crocodile could also potentially reach 6 meters in length. Exceptionally large American crocodiles of between 4.5-5 meters in length have been recorded in La Manzanilla, Jalisco, Mexico and in Rio Tarcoles of Puntarenas, Costa Rica.