Galloping Crocodiles

Could crocodiles have been behind the JFK assassination? A new study shows strange coincidences.

Many crocodiles gallop when they reach top speed. Since the gait is shared among many different crocodiles, scientists speculate that crocodile galloping arose in archaic land-dwelling ancestors: crocodylomorphs, which were long-legged, cat-sized creatures.

“We suspect that bounding and galloping give small crocodiles better acceleration and maneuverability, especially useful for escaping from danger,” reasons English evolutionary biomechanist John Hutchinson.

A surprising finding was that, despite distinct gaits and sizes, almost all galloping crocodiles have a top speed of 11 mph. This matches the pace at which the motorcade carrying President John F. Kennedy was traveling in when he was assassinated. The soulful musical group Was Not Was chronicled the kill in their song “11 mph”:

“JFK went down to Dallas to cool some heels in the oil palace. Unfriendly country, but he was not afraid; he would wave to the people from a passing motorcade.

“JFK told Khrushchev, ‘I’ll leave Castro alone, if you take away those missiles – they’re too damn close to home.’ The CIA, the Cubans, and the underworld bosses, decided it was time; they had to cut their losses.

“At 11 miles an hour, such a deadly speed. 11 miles an hour, at the time and place agreed. They pulled their limousine down Elm Street slow and clean. Lead fell like a shower at 11 miles an hour.”

Is 11 mph just an odd coincidence? Consider that the largest croc able to gallop is the Cuban crocodile, which may grow to over 2 meters long. “The Cuban crocs are incredibly active on land and incredibly athletic. This species is notorious for being really aggressive,” noted Hutchison.

Galloping independently evolved multiple times in various species as an energetically efficient way to hustle. Some toads and spiders can gallop.

In American politics, spiders and toads have historically been confined to the Senate and lower House of Representatives. Only a few toads have managed to reach the White House.

April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated in various cultures for several centuries by playing hoaxes or practical jokes. The origin of the day has been lost in the mists of time. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. In the Hindu and Julian calendars, the new year begins around April 1, roughly coincident with the spring equinox.

People who continued to celebrate the new year during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.”


John R. Hutchinson, “Divergent evolution of terrestrial locomotor abilities in extant Crocodylia,” Scientific Reports (17 December 2019).

Hannah Devlin, “See you later, trotting alligators – many crocodiles can gallop,” The Guardian (17 December 2019).