Baby Turtles Communicate Before they Hatch : The World We Share

If you happen to have more than one child or know of someone that does, then you probably know that no two children do anything on the same timeline. So how is it that dozens of baby turtles all hatch within minutes of each other? By communicating, of course!

Headed by honor student Jessica McGlashan, researchers at the University of Western Sydney observed freshwater turtles in the Murray River near Albury in Australia. According to the team, advanced turtle embryos were able to signal where they were developmentally to their slower growing siblings. In turn, the slower growing siblings are actually able to increase their growth rates based on those signals. The result is a brood of baby turtles that all hatch in a very short amount of time.

“This experiment clearly shows that turtle eggs can manipulate developmental rates somewhat independent of temperature in response to the other eggs in the next,” the team says; an ability that they believe exists only in ectothermic animals (animals whose body temperatures are based upon their surroundings).

The researchers also noted that the adjustments in growth only happened as the embryos approached hatching time, but regardless, this is an interesting and amazing discovery!