Chrysemys picta

| 19 Comments
IMG_4025_600_Painted_Turtle.jpg

Chrysemys picta – painted turtle, Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat, northeast of Boulder, Colorado.

19 Comments

I was surprised last summer when, on a walk while visiting a friend in Connecticut, I encountered one of these lovelies. I was more accustomed to seeing Eastern Painted turtles, which are very beautiful in their own right, but don’t have nearly as much orange coloration. I’d never seen the variety depicted above, and was in awe of how much orange there was. Gorgeous! I hope the photographer flipped this one back over after the shoot.

I hope the photographer flipped this one back over after the shoot.

Took only 1 picture and apologized for disturbing him.

Just beautiful!

So when did they move Walden’s Pond? Has anyone in Mass. noticed it’s missing?

Anyone know what the selective advantage of this colouring might be?

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

Anyone know what the selective advantage of this colouring might be?

It stops idiots from tagging graffiti over them.

It’s turtle all the way down!!11!!

Marvelous.

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

Anyone know what the selective advantage of this colouring might be?

Wondering the same. Is it somehow disturbing to predators who flip it over?

John Vreeland said:

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

Anyone know what the selective advantage of this colouring might be?

Wondering the same. Is it somehow disturbing to predators who flip it over?

I’m curious about this too, and my Google-fu is not strong enough to find the answer.

Sexual selection? Camouflage from below when swimming? An “I’m poisonous” bluff when flipped over? A neutral trait that just happened to get fixated? An unimportant (but pretty) side-effect of some other selected-for trait?

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

Anyone know what the selective advantage of this colouring might be?

I’d put my money on side-effect. A generic ‘paint shell’ mutation is probably less complex/more likely than a ‘paint only the top part of the shell’ mutation, but it has the same survival value. So that’s what you get. Sort of like male nipples; leaving them in the recipe is easier than taking them out.

A generic ‘paint shell’ mutation is probably less complex/more likely than a ‘paint only the top part of the shell’ mutation, but it has the same survival value. So that’s what you get. Sort of like male nipples; leaving them in the recipe is easier than taking them out.

The carapace is not painted on top; it is very plain. But the underside of the top plate is painted, at least where it is visible. I’d guess the painting is an adaptation, but that is an uneducated guess.

Henry J said:

It’s turtle all the way down!!11!!

Ah, but this painting suggests it might be turtles all the way up.

I assume this “turtle” would be referred to as a “terrapin” in the UK?

I understand they life in ponds, lakes and slow moving streams. Such environments would be muddy with low visibility. Might I suggest a couple of possibilities (I have no evidence whether either is correct):

1) Could the bright colours/colors be a way of making itself visible to a potential mate? After all, a dull-coloured shell in muddy water does not exactly stand out. I have read that there is considerable colour variation between individuals so I would guess it does not use it to identify its own species or subspecies.

2) A bright flash or colour, even in cloudy water might act as a surprise to possible predators allowing it just a little extra time to escape (hiding the colour in the process). The predator would then be looking for a brightly coloured prey which had disappeared.

Just a thought …

P.S. “Check Spelling” is excellent - caught a bad spelling error and a typo.

Does anyone know whether turtles see in color? Obviously relevant to this discussion.

Most all vertebrates have color vision except non-primate mammals, some of whom may be bichromatic. Wikipedia says that turtles can see from the near UV through the red.

Can an overturned turtle right itself? I would suppose it can, since if something as simple as being turned over meant inevitable death, it would be pretty fatal to the long-term survival of the species. (But *how* does it turn itself upside right?)

In this vein, I remember being at one of the Phoenix zoos some years ago and seeing some fairly large tortoises in an enclosure. One of the tortoises was apparently low man on the pecking order, and the other tortoises would be mean to it by flipping it over. Every once in a while, one of the zookeepers would have to come by and turn the feebly flailing wretch upright.

That’s how I remember it, anyway, and at this late recollection I find myself surprised that tortoises are organized enough to have a dominance hierarchy, and that they would have the devilishly fine-tuned instinct to harass an inferior by flipping him over.

I also have the lingering impression of being told when I asked that the flippee could right himself if given time, but it was just easier for somebody to do it for him, and besides the zoo visitors would get all worried and upset seeing him struggle pitifully.

Deklane said:

Can an overturned turtle right itself? I would suppose it can, since if something as simple as being turned over meant inevitable death, it would be pretty fatal to the long-term survival of the species. (But *how* does it turn itself upside right?)

They most certainly can. They arch their head backward and push against the ground with their nose to raise their shell off the ground. Then they dig in with one of their feet and flip themselves over. They can do it pretty quickly.

A snapping turtle is even faster at flipping itself back over.

Deklane said: Can an overturned turtle right itself?

Are there no Futurama fans here?

If turtles couldn’t flip themselves back over, the TMNT would be in trouble! :)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on May 17, 2010 12:00 PM.

Well that was interesting was the previous entry in this blog.

Junk DNA is still junk is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter