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Thanks to a researcher at Fordham University, we now know the Crocodylus suchus story is not just a croc.

A private, nonprofit, research university in New York City, Fordham was founded in 1841. There are approximately 15,000 students enrolled across the school’s three campuses, which include Rose Hill, Lincoln Center and Westchester. Fordham is composed of four undergraduate schools and six graduate schools. The Carnegie Foundation classifies Fordham as a “high-research doctoral university.”

In September 2011, research by a Fordham professor shattered the long-thought belief that the Nile crocodile found throughout Africa is one single species. Evon Hekkala, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology and her team discovered a hidden lineage of crocodiles through DNA comparisons of modern crocodiles with ancient mummy crocodiles.

It was believed the Nile crocodile is larger and more aggressive in the eastern and southern African regions, and smaller and more docile in the Congo and West Africa. Hekkala’s research suggests that in reality they are two different crocodile lineages.

Analysis of mummy samples, collected during Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt in the early 1800s, reveal they belong to a species once described as Crocodylus suchus. Although the C. suchus lineage had been described as a smaller and gentler “sacred” crocodile by scientist Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1807, his contemporaries discounted his theory and called him crazy. Thus, Crocodylus suchus was never recognized. Hekkala and her team hope to change that.

Notable Fordham alumni include Geraldine Ferraro; Andrew Cuomo; Denzel Washington; “Captain Kangaroo” Bob Keeshan; Virginia O’Hanlon, whose childhood letter to the New York Sun prompted the famous response “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” and Donald Trump.

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