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Mary River gharial

In the 1980s, reports surfaced of a gharial-like creature in the Mary River, despite none being known to exist in Australia.

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Mary River gharial

Reptile, Crocodilian


Australian cryptid


Freshwater cryptid, Swamp-dwelling


Carnivore, Out-of-place, Lazarus taxon, Aquatic, Featured in Native folklore

The Mary River is a 225 km long river with an 8,000 km2 basin at the Top End in Northern Territory. In the Arnhem Land Tropical Savannah ecoregion, the Mary River is the home to hundreds of bird species, a large saltwater and freshwater crocodile population, and allegedly, an unknown species of gharial. According to Northern Territory herpetologist Richard Wells, he was told various reports of gharials, a species related to crocodiles thought to only live in India and Bangladesh, around the Murray River by poachers and hunters, both White and Indigenous.

Wells described it as having a thin, elongated jaw with exposed teeth, paddle-shaped legs and are reported to be larger than saltwater crocodiles, who average at 13 to 17 ft, making this unknown gharial species the largest crocodilian species. English cryptozoologist Karl Shuker, who is one of the only people who has written about this cryptid, speculates it may be a freshwater crocodile, also called a Johnstone’s crocodile exhibiting mild starvation, as crocodiles with low-protein diets in captivity develop exposed teeth. Johnstone’s crocodiles are also known to have thinner snouts than other species. the only problem with this theory is the paddle-like limbs and that freshwater crocodiles only reach about 7 to 10 ft, but the unknown gharial is allegedly bigger than saltwater crocodiles, the largest known crocodile species.

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