Tomistoma schlegelii

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A freshwater crocodilian species of the family Gavialidae, and is found in the Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, and Java


Tomistoma schlegelii, commonly known as the false gharial, is a crocodilian species of the subfamily Tomistominae, which in turn belongs to the family Gavialidae. It is native to the Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, and Java. It inhabits rivers, swamps, and lakes. It is considered as a vulnerable species according to the IUCN Red list. There are only less than 2,500 false gharials around the world.1

The false gharials are described as false because they resemble another group of crocodilians, the gharials. Gavialis gangeticus (gavial or gharial) is a species of the family Gavialidae and is native to the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The false gharials differ from the true gharials in a way that the formers' snout broadens considerably towards the base. Nevertheless, genetic sequence studies on the false gharials and the true gharials revealed that they may have a common ancestor some time in evolutionary history.2

Scientific classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Crocodilia
  • Family: Gavialidae
  • Subfamily: Tomistominae
  • Genus: Tomistoma [Müller, 1846]
  • Species: Tomistoma schlegelii [Müller, 1838]

Other common name(s):

  • false gharial
  • Malayan gharial
  • Sunda gharial
  • Tomistoma

See also:

1 Bezuijen, M.R., Shwedick, B., Simpson, B.K., Staniewicz, A. & Stuebing, R. (2014). "Tomistoma schlegelii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
2 Willis, R. E., McAliley, L. R., Neeley, E. D., & Densmore, L. D. (2007). Evidence for placing the false gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) into the family Gavialidae: inferences from nuclear gene sequences. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, 43(3), 787-794.