Three massive crocodiles approached a small dog who had fed into the water after being chased by a pack of feral dogs, but instead of the terrifying encounter becoming deadly, the Indian Marsh Crocodiles seemed to guide the defenceless pup back to shore in a bizarre show of empathy.
Researchers have said they believe the strange exchange could be a sign crocodiles have emotional intelligence and “cross-species empathy”.
The incident took place within the Mahad’s Savitri River in India, where a terrified dog was seen escaping an attack from other canines before running into more trouble in the water.
Miraculously, the three crocodiles, noticing the distressed pup, gave the dog a “safe passage”, in a move that has baffled scientists.
In a report published on August 26, researchers in India made the argument that this rare interaction between the animals shows that crocodiles possess a higher level of cognitive abilities than what is currently perceived by the scientific community.
“These crocodiles were actually touching the dog with their snout and nudging it to move further for a safe ascent on the bank and eventually escape,” the researchers wrote in the study.
“Given that the mugger was well within the striking range and could have easily devoured the dog, yet none of them attacked and instead chose to nudge it towards the bank, implies that the hunger drive was absent,” it added.
The fearsome reptiles can reach up to 18 feet long and weigh up to 1,000 pounds when they reach adulthood, according to the Wildlife Institute of India.
However, these massive creatures appeared to be “docile” in the sweet exchange with man’s best friend.
“The curious case of a dog ‘rescued’ by the group of crocodiles reported here seems more on lines of empathy than altruistic behaviour,” the scientists said.
Along with the cute interaction with the little dog, the scientists in India also found another peculiar behaviour. They found that the deadly crocs have a surprising affinity for bright yellow marigold flowers.
The golden flora were often found near to the beasts as they lounged and basked in their presence, the scientists revealed.
“Reptiles have been underestimated as far as animal cognition is concerned. This behaviour is novel and intriguing,” researchers further maintained.
The peculiar fondness for the flower has prompted researchers to question whether marigold petals may offer a remedy for concerns related to fungus and bacteria as the flower is known for its antimicrobial properties.