You may have heard the expression that anyone who puts on a disingenuous display of emotion is shedding “crocodile tears”. Most people, (myself included) don’t think of our scaly friends as having a lot of remorse when it comes to feasting on their prey; but if that’s not the case, where did this silly notion come from?
The whole idea of crocodiles shedding real tears comes from an ancient belief that crocodiles will cry when they are eating their victims. A collection of proverbs by Plutarch solidifies this fact; stating that people will cry crocodile tears for someone who died even though they themselves may have caused the very death they are “mourning”.
While to the untrained eye, crocodiles may appear to be crying; upon closer scientific study, we have learned crocodiles have tear ducts that secrete tears when their eyes begin to dry out. This often happens when the crock has been out of the water for an extended period of time; while others believe these tears occur when a crock feeds. More recently, Bogorad’s syndrome has been labeled “crocodile tears syndrome” because sufferers shed tears when consuming food.
So next time you find yourself face to face with a tearful crocodile chewing on your leg, don’t be fooled into thinking it feels bad for you.