The Nile crocodile is a dangerous beast. Descended from the dinosaurs, it can grow over 20 feet long and has a bite force of 3,700 pounds per square inch. (Over 3x greater than a grizzly bear and 10x greater than a Rottweiler.) It's a killing machine responsible for nearly 200 deaths every year.
But the Nile crocodile also has another fascinating claim to fame. It's one of the first written examples of why you can not make assumptions about how people think!
The first historian, Herodotus, wrote in his Histories how three different groups of ancient Egyptians viewed the deadly creature that lurked in their river:
Some Egyptians view them as sacred, while others treat them as enemies. In particular, the people who live around Thebes and about the lake of Moiris consider the crocodile so holy that they tame a crocodile, treat it as a god, adorn it with gold ornaments in the ears and around claws, make sacrifices on its behalf and embalm it in holy tombs when they die. On the other hand, the people who live near the city of Elephantine eat them.
Isn't it fascinating how each group had such a different perspective on the exact same predator?
All three groups lived along the Nile. All three groups lived at risk of entering the crocodile's food chain. Yet one group viewed the crocodile as a mortal enemy, the other as a sacred being and the final group considered it a delicacy.
Just makes you think - what assumptions are we making because of our culture? How might might our perspectives change if we talked to people who live just down the river?
Photo Credit: "Just chilling." by Owen Jones