Two Morelet's crocodiles (Crocodylus moreletii) captured on 21 March 1997 and 20 April 1998 in the New River system, Belize exhibited ectromelia of one forelimb. External and radiograph examination appears to indicate limb agenesis of unknown etiology, as there is no apparent scarring or skeletal trauma. These two individuals represent the only cases of missing limbs from 642 individuals captured in this study and to our knowledge, the first reported cases in Morelet's crocodile. Several factors including age and diet of the reproducing female, extremes in nest conditions (egg incubation temperature and humidity), and exposure to environmental contaminants can cause developmental abnormalities in crocodilians and may have contributed to the condition observed in these animals. Survival rates for hatchling crocodilians are generally low, and embryonic malformations such as ectromelia may constitute an added disadvantage to survival. However, both individuals examined in this study were vigorous and appeared in good condition.
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Vol. 35 • No. 1