Some crocodiles were known to have lived past a century, and even those that don’t can still exceed a human lifespan with ease. Myths are even going around claiming that crocodiles might have the potential of being immortal, as long as they can be protected from disease, hunters or starvation. Since crocodiles live such a long time, and since scientists have not been able to come up with a reliable means of measuring their lifespan accurately, getting a precise reading on how long crocodiles can live is difficult at best. However, separating myth and assumption from actual fact can still get us close.
Through actual time measurements performed on crocodiles living both in captivity and in the wild, it was determined that the average lifespan of these reptiles is about 30-40 years at the very least. Some larger species are estimated to live an average life of up to 70 years, with individual members reaching ages of 115 or even more than 140. A male crocodile named Kolya, held in a Russian zoo for about 80 years, was claimed to have been 115 years old at the time of death in 1995. A freshwater crocodile in Australia was known to have survived for nearly 140 years until 2010. Also, the Crocworld Conservation Centre claims to have a living Nile crocodile that is about 117 years old. Although these claims cannot be verified completely, they seem to confirm the theory that many species of crocodiles can live for more than a century under ideal conditions.
There are claims that crocodiles don’t age. While how the process of aging in these reptiles actually works is still widely unclear to scientists, crocodiles do show signs of aging. As they become older, they tend to lose their teeth and become weaker. Females start to lay fewer eggs, and all members of the species may be prone to cataracts and other disorders specifically associated with the aging process. The most accurate method to measure how long crocodiles have lived is to measure lamellar growth rings in their teeth and bones, a process that still leads to many inaccuracies.
Recent discussions and articles have led to the popularization of the myth that crocodiles might not age at all. According to some scholars, there is no evidence that the aging process even applies to the biology of crocodiles, and there is no difference between adult members of the species of different ages. One myth even states that, if it wasn’t for disease, famine and hunting, crocodiles would likely live forever, growing constantly but never really dying of old age. Experts have put this myth to rest as well, showing that crocodiles rarely even reach the age of 100.