Pskov Crocodile

Mystery CROCODILIAN of European Russia. Physical description: Like a Nile crocodile. Behavior: Aggressive.

Distribution: Velikaya River, Pskov Region, Russia.

Significant sighting: In 1582, crocodiles emerged from the Velikaya River and bit many people. Some were killed, and others escaped into the countryside.

Present status: Under ordinary circumstances, the farthest north any crocodilians live in the Old World is the mouth of the Nile River in Egypt, roughly 31° north latitude. Pskov is much farther north, at 58°.

Possible explanation: Boris V. and Valentin B. Sapunov concluded that some Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) were being transported through Russia to Lithuania, where a reptile farm of some kind apparently existed in the late sixteenth century. Some accident or event caused their release, and they subsisted on fishes for a while, scaring many people in the area.

Source: "Sixteenth Century Russian Crocodile Account," ISC Newsletter 12, no. 1 (1993- 1996): 9-10.

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