A desperate dog in India jumped into a crocodile-infested river recently but instead of becoming a meal, the animal was actually helped by two of the mammoth reptiles.
Scientists are commenting on the confounding situation after studying what should have been a deadly encounter for the pup.
The scared pup avoided them by jumping into a body of water that was infested with marsh crocodiles, which are referred to commonly as “muggers.”
The animals can grow to lengths of 18 feet and weigh half a ton.
Given what is believed about large crocodiles, conventional thinking might have led onlookers who photographed the moment to believe the dog had chosen one form of death over another.
When a dog in India sought refuge in a river while being chased by feral animals, it was surrounded by crocodiles. They could “have easily devoured” it, experts say, but when their snouts came in contact, they helped save its life instead. https://t.co/zsj0A8fE7J pic.twitter.com/QZFa2o28fb
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 22, 2023
Shockingly, that is not what happened at all, as three crocodiles actually assisted the dog to safety.
Scientists who evaluated the apparent act of goodwill by the muggers described what happened. Per a report on the matter, the frightened dog “inadvertently sought refuge by entering shallow water of the river Savitri.”
The report continued: “At this time three adult Muggers were clearly seen floating close by in the water and their attention was drawn to this dog and they moved closer towards the dog.
“What initially seemed to be a classical predatory instinct of the Mugger towards the hapless prey, soon turned out to be a more docile behaviour by two of the three crocodiles that guided the dog away from the site where it would have been vulnerable to being attacked by the pack of feral dogs waiting on the river bank.”
The crocodiles nudged the terrified dog to safety by using their snouts.
Those who investigated the incident said that while their analysis of it was “speculative,” they had two theories as to why the dog was shown apparent mercy.
Firstly, the muggers might have simply not even been hungry.
The crocodiles might have helped the distressed animal because their “hunger drive was absent,” scientists said.
But there was another theory: The crocodiles were aware of the suffering of what could have been an easy meal and chose to help the vulnerable pup.
“…[We] propose this to be a case of sentient behaviour of the Mugger resulting in cross species ‘emotional empathy’, which is not a very extensively investigated behaviour,” the scientists said.
The Journal of Threatened Taxa concluded that crocodiles such as muggers might be more emotionally intelligent than is believed.
“Reptiles have been underestimated as far as animal cognition is concerned, perhaps due to a skewed impression that they are lethargic and at the most reflex machines,” the scientists said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.