Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Neat Bits from Medical Journal Article about Crocodile Attacks

From an article in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine (Caldicott DG, Croser D, Manolis C, Webb G, Britton A., "Crocodile attack in Australia: an analysis of its incidence and review of the pathology and management of crocodilian attacks in general." Wilderness Environ Med. 2005 Fall;16(3):143-59.)

Crocodilian hemoglobin has 12 unique bicarbonate binding sites, allowing far more oxygen to be released from the molecule for a given oxygen tension than from the human equivalent. A hybrid human-crocodilian hemoglobin (Hb-Scuba) has been developed and has potential as a synthetic hemoglobin.

In the only reported Australian series to date,77 cause of death was attributed to either decapitation or truncal transection (Figure 2). It should be assumed that massive blood loss90 and drowning are the cause of death in a large number of crocodilian attacks. Assessing the actual cause of death can be complicated by the fact that bodies are sometimes not found, have been eaten, or are decomposed to an extent that makes cause of death difficult to ascertain. Mercifully, death appears to be swift, with little or no bruising seen on postmortem examination.

The power and size of some animals are such that, if not lethal in the first instance, injuries can be as severe as those seen in major road trauma or in the military arena.

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