National Geographic has uncovered some game-changing new evidence about a record first recognised by Guinness World Records in 1968: Most fatalities in a crocodile attack.
It has long been believed that almost 1,000 Japanese soldiers were killed whilst being forced by Allied troops to cross 10 miles (16 km) of mangrove swamps, falling prey to a mass of saltwater crocodiles.
The terrible event was written about by the Canadian naturalist Bruce Stanley Wright in his 1962 book Wildlife Sketches.
He claimed that on 19 February 1945, the crocodiles attacked the Japanese soldiers and left just 20 survivors.
New research on military records by the National Geographic Channel, however, has cast doubt on the story, or at least on the extent of the deaths.
Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday commented:
"The Editors and Record Managers at Guinness World Records are always willing to re-open a record for investigation if we feel that there’s enough evidence that something’s amiss. We were intrigued when Sam approached us with the idea that the crocodile attack might have been exaggerated by the journalist at the time, and when he showed us compelling evidence that it couldn’t have been such a high death toll, we had no option but to take the record out of circulation.
"In this case, the original source was a book written by a well-respected naturalist who would have had no discernible reason to exaggerate. Our consultants research records from a wide variety of sources – books, journals, papers, as well as their first-hand research – and if we feel that new evidence supersedes the original, as in this instance, we’ll re-investigate a record. We’re constantly updating and revising our categories, so we’re indebted to Sam and his team for bringing this to our attention."
Although the record had not been listed in the records book for many years, as a result of this investigation, the Guinness World Records 2017 Edition was edited just prior to printing – and National Geographic’s Dr. Sam Willis went to visit UPM Plattling in Germany to see a copy of our new edition hot off the press as part of new programme Nazi Weird War Two.
The show debuts on the National Geographic Channel in the UK tonight at 8 pm.
The harrowing events of this animal attack are featured alongside many jaw-dropping crocodile records in the Guinness World Records 2017 Edition book, out now.