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Rare Curio - Antique Stuffed Nile Crocodile

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: African: Pre 1837 VR: Item # 1066199

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Rare Curio - Antique Stuffed Nile Crocodile
A rare curiosity - an early nineteenth, late 18th Century stuffed specimen of a North African Nile Crocodile, Crocodylus Niloticus. An extremely fine and striking piece of antique taxidermy art from a bygone era. The crocodile mounted in a position of attack, his mouth wide open to reveal his deep mouth and sharp teeth. His legs flexed ready to pounce and his tail curled to the side. The whole piece expertly conserved, mounted and painted. Length: 41 inches. Condition: Excellent. Several teeth missing, minor damage to the tail. A dorsal incision on the belly used to stuff the creature. Provenance: German Private Collection. The Nile Crocodile and Antique Taxidermy art: The Nile crocodile is known from antiquity to have inhabited the Nile and its delta and was worshiped by the Ancient Egyptians in the form of Sobek, the crocodile headed creator God. Unfortunately this creature has now been eradicated from almost all of the Nile proper, owing to the construction of the Aswan dam in the 1960's. Whilst usually Nile crocodiles crawl on their belly, they are capable of "high walking" at considerable speeds at times. They spend considerable time concealed underwater, their nostrils, ears, and eyes being at the top of their heads, where they can exercise their acute senses unperturbed. They can hold their breath for up to 2 hours underwater and can survive a long time between meals. They can exert very impressive biting forces with their jaws. They usually bite on prey and swivel round thus tearing off huge chunks of flesh which they swallow. This is called the Death Roll. Their mouths are filled with a total of 64-68 cone-shaped teeth. The Nile crocodile is the largest African crocodilian reaching lengths of up to 16 feet. It can live 70-100 years. The Nile crocodile can and does eat all types of animal - and humans - as well as fish. Whilst it seems happy to attack big cats such as lions and tigers, it will not usually attack adult elephants and hippos! The turn of the last century was a time of great advances in the field of taxidermy. For the first time taxidermy became an independent profession, rather than something practiced by upholsterers on the side. They were able to achieve remarkably realistic results and moved from showing animals in simple or unrealistic positions to showing them in real-life contexts and poses. Taxidermy became a highly skilled art and objects such as this attest to the remarkable results that could be achieved by the finest taxidermists. Such specimens were common a few hundred years ago when the Nile crocodile was hunted for its hide, as well as its threat to humans. Examples such as this are now extremely rare on the art market.

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