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Cuvier's dwarf caiman was first described by the French zoologist Georges Cuvier in 1807 and is one of only two species in the genus Paleosuchus, the other species being P.  trigonatus. Their closest relatives are the other caimans in the subfamily Caimaninae. With a total length averaging 1. 4 m (4. 6 ft) for males and typically up to 1. 2 m (3. 9 ft) for females, Cuvier's dwarf caiman is not only the smallest extant species in the alligator and caiman family, but also the smallest of all crocodilians. An adult typically weighs around 6 to 7 kg (13 to 15 lb). Its lack of size is partly made up for by its strong body armour, provided by the bony bases to its dermal scales, which provides protection against predators. Juvenile dwarf caimans mainly feed on invertebrates, but also small fish and frogs, while adults eat larger fish, amphibians, and invertebrates, such as large molluscs. This caiman sometimes uses a burrow as shelter during the day and in the Pantanal may aestivate in the burrow to stay cool in the dry season. The female buries her eggs on a mounded nest and these take about 3 months to hatch. She helps the hatchlings to escape from the nest and provides some parental care for the first few weeks of their lives. This caiman has a wide range and large total population and the IUCN lists its conservation status as being of least concern.