Turtles in nests 'talking' to each other?

Dec. 1, 2011 at 6:09 PM
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SYDNEY, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Baby turtles may communicate in the nest to coordinate their hatching to prevent some emerging alone and at the mercy of predators, Australian researchers say.

Researchers from the University of Western Study said Murray short-necked turtles, enclosed together in a tight nest, might be sensing each other's heart vibrations or the gases in the breath of more developed turtles signaling less developed ones to encourage them to increase their growth rates, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

"I am pretty sure they're not sitting there chatting to each other but no one really knows," Ricky Spencer, a co-author of the new study, said.

Embryos at the bottom of the nest where temperatures are lower have a "catch-up mechanism" which enables them to accelerate their incubation periods but the exact nature of the mechanism is unknown, scientists said.

"They might be cuing in on heart rates," Spencer said. "They are all touching each other within the nests so there might be vibrations there.

"A nest environment is pretty much an enclosed cavity where gas exchange might be a cue as well ... They breathe, so if you get increases in carbon dioxide within a nest they might be cuing on in that."

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