rhamphotheca:

Team Tracks Threatened Tortoises at Yuma Proving Grounds (AZ)

by Mark Schauer, The (YPG) Outpost

With November here, the Yuma Proving Ground’s population of Sonoran Desert Tortoises are preparing for brumation, the reptilian equivalent to hibernation. 

Humans responsible for their stewardship, however, are celebrating a year of discovery about the desert creatures.

“We learned more this season about tortoises in this region than has ever been known,” said Daniel Steward, YPG wildlife biologist.

To facilitate YPG’s important mission while at the same time conserving the proving ground’s wildlife population, wildlife biologists have actively sought to determine where populations of desert tortoises live, searching for the creatures in plots of land most likely to have them present. Steward says that, unlike the Mojave Tortoise, which isn’t found at YPG, Sonoran Tortoises prefer rocky areas with lots of shelter sites…

(read more: Yuma Sun)

rhamphotheca:

Illustrated Evolution of the Turtle Shell

Evolution of the turtle shell based on developmental and fossil data. This animation is based on the work of Dr. Tyler Lyson, currently at the Smithsonian Institution. The animation shows how various fossils, particularly Eunotosaurus and Odontochelys, bridge the morphological gap between a generalized animal body plan to the highly modified body plan found in living turtles.

The paper, published in Current Biology, can be found here.

Animation by Stroma Studios

rhamphotheca:

Today, after coming back from lunch, I saw a big male Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene c. triunguis) out in the park (Houston, TX), and I gave him a couple of cherry tomatoes. He was very grateful. :3

Oh man, you are his FAVORITE, Seeing him strut carrying that in his mouth is priceless. 

rhamphotheca:

Today, after coming back from lunch, I saw a big male Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene c. triunguis) out in the park (Houston, TX), and I gave him a couple of cherry tomatoes. He was very grateful. :3

Oh man, you are his FAVORITE, Seeing him strut carrying that in his mouth is priceless. 

rhamphotheca:

Today, after coming back from lunch, I saw a big male Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene c. triunguis) out in the park (Houston, TX), and I gave him a couple of cherry tomatoes. He was very grateful. :3

Oh man, you are his FAVORITE, Seeing him strut carrying that in his mouth is priceless. 

rhamphotheca:

Today, after coming back from lunch, I saw a big male Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene c. triunguis) out in the park (Houston, TX), and I gave him a couple of cherry tomatoes. He was very grateful. :3

Oh man, you are his FAVORITE, Seeing him strut carrying that in his mouth is priceless. 

rhamphotheca:

Today, after coming back from lunch, I saw a big male Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene c. triunguis) out in the park (Houston, TX), and I gave him a couple of cherry tomatoes. He was very grateful. :3

Oh man, you are his FAVORITE, Seeing him strut carrying that in his mouth is priceless. 

rhamphotheca:

Turtles that eat bone, rocks and soil, and turtles that mine

by Darren Naish

My huge friend and colleague Mathew Wedel owns a Box turtle Terrapene carolina. It’s called Eastie… don’t judge; this is because the animal is an Eastern box turtle (or is she? I wonder if Eastie is a Three-toed box turtle). Anyway, Eastie recently found part of a deceased rat’s head while on a backyard jaunt, and proceeded to deliberately snip away at the broken braincase and eat the bone fragments. This bone-eating carried on for about 20 minutes, and Matt thought it interesting enough to take the photo you see here (TL).

The eating of bones – osteophagy – is well known for turtles, has been recorded in several species, and is observed easily enough in species kept in captivity (like Testudo tortoises). Whenever this subject is mentioned (believe me, it’s always cropping up in conversation), many people recall the photo in David Attenborough’s Life on Earth that shows an Aldabran giant tortoise Aldabrachelys gigantea* scavenging on the carcass of a conspecific (Attenborough 1984) (TR).

As you can see here, it’s not entirely clear what the tortoise is doing, but it looks like it’s gnawing at dried skin and muscle, not bone. Incidentally, the photo was taken by Attenborough himself. I did used to have a very neat photo showing gnaw marks that a pet tortoise (belonging to my late friend and colleague David Cooper) left on a cow bone – to my frustration, I can no longer locate it…

(read more: Tetrapod Zoology – Scientific American)

photos: Mathew Wedel, David Attenborough, and Utahcamera

* Yes, it is actually a 3-toed Box Turtle (T. c. triunguis)

rhamphotheca:

Turtles that eat bone, rocks and soil, and turtles that mine

by Darren Naish

My huge friend and colleague Mathew Wedel owns a Box turtle Terrapene carolina. It’s called Eastie… don’t judge; this is because the animal is an Eastern box turtle (or is she? I wonder if Eastie is a Three-toed box turtle). Anyway, Eastie recently found part of a deceased rat’s head while on a backyard jaunt, and proceeded to deliberately snip away at the broken braincase and eat the bone fragments. This bone-eating carried on for about 20 minutes, and Matt thought it interesting enough to take the photo you see here (TL).

The eating of bones – osteophagy – is well known for turtles, has been recorded in several species, and is observed easily enough in species kept in captivity (like Testudo tortoises). Whenever this subject is mentioned (believe me, it’s always cropping up in conversation), many people recall the photo in David Attenborough’s Life on Earth that shows an Aldabran giant tortoise Aldabrachelys gigantea* scavenging on the carcass of a conspecific (Attenborough 1984) (TR).

As you can see here, it’s not entirely clear what the tortoise is doing, but it looks like it’s gnawing at dried skin and muscle, not bone. Incidentally, the photo was taken by Attenborough himself. I did used to have a very neat photo showing gnaw marks that a pet tortoise (belonging to my late friend and colleague David Cooper) left on a cow bone – to my frustration, I can no longer locate it…

(read more: Tetrapod Zoology – Scientific American)

photos: Mathew Wedel, David Attenborough, and Utahcamera

* Yes, it is actually a 3-toed Box Turtle (T. c. triunguis)

rhamphotheca:

Turtles that eat bone, rocks and soil, and turtles that mine

by Darren Naish

My huge friend and colleague Mathew Wedel owns a Box turtle Terrapene carolina. It’s called Eastie… don’t judge; this is because the animal is an Eastern box turtle (or is she? I wonder if Eastie is a Three-toed box turtle). Anyway, Eastie recently found part of a deceased rat’s head while on a backyard jaunt, and proceeded to deliberately snip away at the broken braincase and eat the bone fragments. This bone-eating carried on for about 20 minutes, and Matt thought it interesting enough to take the photo you see here (TL).

The eating of bones – osteophagy – is well known for turtles, has been recorded in several species, and is observed easily enough in species kept in captivity (like Testudo tortoises). Whenever this subject is mentioned (believe me, it’s always cropping up in conversation), many people recall the photo in David Attenborough’s Life on Earth that shows an Aldabran giant tortoise Aldabrachelys gigantea* scavenging on the carcass of a conspecific (Attenborough 1984) (TR).

As you can see here, it’s not entirely clear what the tortoise is doing, but it looks like it’s gnawing at dried skin and muscle, not bone. Incidentally, the photo was taken by Attenborough himself. I did used to have a very neat photo showing gnaw marks that a pet tortoise (belonging to my late friend and colleague David Cooper) left on a cow bone – to my frustration, I can no longer locate it…

(read more: Tetrapod Zoology – Scientific American)

photos: Mathew Wedel, David Attenborough, and Utahcamera

* Yes, it is actually a 3-toed Box Turtle (T. c. triunguis)

rhamphotheca:

TSA Turtle Tuesday:  Asian Mountain Tortoise

Did you know the Asian mountain tortoise (Manouria emys) is one of the only turtle species that provides maternal protection for its eggs?

After making a nest on the surface of the ground, the female will cover the eggs with vegetation and stand guard! If a potential threat approaches, she will push and bite to ward off the predator. If this doesn’t work, the protective tortoise will place herself over the eggs and hunker down! Both surface nests and nest protection are unique characteristics among chelonians.

You can read more about this critically endangered species and our ongoing conservation efforts on our website…

Turtle Survival Alliance

rhamphotheca:

WORK IN CURRENT HERPETOLOGY:

Sea Turtles Smell Nearby Shores

by Cameron Walker

A loggerhead sea turtle’s nose knows land. Sea turtles can migrate across the ocean and back, but while Earth’s magnetic field plays a role in their navigation, researchers have wondered what other tools turtles use to find safe harbor, particularly at smaller scales.

Loggerheads’ (Caretta caretta) olfactory systems can sense airborne odors, including food—could they sniff out nearby shores as well? To find out, researchers piped the scent of either distilled water or mud from North Carolina’s Sage Bay into the air above a juvenile loggerhead at swim in an arena.

Researchers report in this month’s issue of Marine Biology that when the scent of mud was in the air, the 10 turtles spent more time swimming with their heads above the water’s surface, compared with when distilled water was the only perfume…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

photo: Courtney Endres

rhamphotheca:

Green Sea Turtles

Although largely inhabitants of tropical and subtropical waters, Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) can sometimes be found as far north as the Alaska and Newfoundland coasts. Breeding only takes place in warmer latitudes, however, and adults may swim very long distances between feeding and nesting grounds, often returning to the very same beach where they hatched.

Individuals may not make their first trip to breeding sites until they reach sexual maturity at 20-50 years old; after that, and for the rest of their 80-100 year lifespan, males may make the trip every year, while females tend to return every 2-4 years.

Away from the nesting islands, juvenile turtles typically inhabit deeper waters and feed mainly on invertebrates, while adults prefer lagoons where they typically browse on seagrass. The name Green Sea Turtle refers not to the color of their skin or shell, but rather to the layer of green fat just under their skin.

photo by P.Lindgren, shared on Wikimedia Commons

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

rhamphotheca:

Why does the terrapin cross the runway?

It was the summer of 2011, and we had 20 female diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) crawling across the taxiways and runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y.

Airport operations staff scrambled to pick them all up. Aircraft pilots discussed the terrapins on the radio with the air traffic control tower.

And just when we would try to reopen the runway, another terrapin would be spotted. The 10-15 minutes felt like hours. Sure, it was a serious issue, but watching the terrapins cross oblivious to the vehicles and aircraft was also amusing…

(read more: US Fish & Wildlife Service – NE)

Photo by Dave Fitzpatrick/Flickr

rhamphotheca:

Why does the terrapin cross the runway?

It was the summer of 2011, and we had 20 female diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) crawling across the taxiways and runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y.

Airport operations staff scrambled to pick them all up. Aircraft pilots discussed the terrapins on the radio with the air traffic control tower.

And just when we would try to reopen the runway, another terrapin would be spotted. The 10-15 minutes felt like hours. Sure, it was a serious issue, but watching the terrapins cross oblivious to the vehicles and aircraft was also amusing…

(read more: US Fish & Wildlife Service – NE)

Photo by Dave Fitzpatrick/Flickr

rhamphotheca:

Why does the terrapin cross the runway?

It was the summer of 2011, and we had 20 female diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) crawling across the taxiways and runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y.

Airport operations staff scrambled to pick them all up. Aircraft pilots discussed the terrapins on the radio with the air traffic control tower.

And just when we would try to reopen the runway, another terrapin would be spotted. The 10-15 minutes felt like hours. Sure, it was a serious issue, but watching the terrapins cross oblivious to the vehicles and aircraft was also amusing…

(read more: US Fish & Wildlife Service – NE)

Photo by Dave Fitzpatrick/Flickr

rhamphotheca:

Why does the terrapin cross the runway?

It was the summer of 2011, and we had 20 female diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) crawling across the taxiways and runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y.

Airport operations staff scrambled to pick them all up. Aircraft pilots discussed the terrapins on the radio with the air traffic control tower.

And just when we would try to reopen the runway, another terrapin would be spotted. The 10-15 minutes felt like hours. Sure, it was a serious issue, but watching the terrapins cross oblivious to the vehicles and aircraft was also amusing…

(read more: US Fish & Wildlife Service – NE)

Photo by Dave Fitzpatrick/Flickr

rhamphotheca:

Why does the terrapin cross the runway?

It was the summer of 2011, and we had 20 female diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) crawling across the taxiways and runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y.

Airport operations staff scrambled to pick them all up. Aircraft pilots discussed the terrapins on the radio with the air traffic control tower.

And just when we would try to reopen the runway, another terrapin would be spotted. The 10-15 minutes felt like hours. Sure, it was a serious issue, but watching the terrapins cross oblivious to the vehicles and aircraft was also amusing…

(read more: US Fish & Wildlife Service – NE)

Photo by Dave Fitzpatrick/Flickr

San Diego Zoo: No euthanasia of threatened tortoises, despite AP report

San Diego Zoo: No euthanasia of threatened tortoises, despite AP report