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Piggy Back To 100 Babies

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The photo of a freshwater gharial giving piggy back ride to more than 100 of his month-old children has gone viral. The photo was taken by India-based photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee. The photo was captured in the waters of northern India’s National Chambal Sanctuary. Gharials are critically endangered. It is estimated that only 650 adults left in the freshwaters of India and Nepal, according to the Natural History Museum.

Gharials can measure up to 15 feet long and weigh more than 900 kilograms. They are named for the bulbous nobs that males sport on the ends of their snouts. Crocs use their gharas to amplify vocalizations and blow bubbles during mating season. According to Mukherjee, the pictured papa mated with seven or eight different females to achieve this brood of 100-plus hatchlings. Usually croc carry their young about in their mouths but the gharial, the unusual morphology of the snout means this is not possible. So the young have to cling to the head and back for that close connection and protection.

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