Swinging hips help turtles take greater strides
Turtles have a reputation. “They’re slow, they’re clumsy and the shell just gets in the way of everything,” said Richard Blob, a biologist at Clemson University who specializes in studying how animals have evolved to move the way they do. But, Blob adds quickly, “I don’t think that’s the case anymore.” Fueling the pokey reputation is a long-held belief that a turtle can’t move its pelvis or hips. Until recently, however, nobody has been able to see under, or through, a turtle’s shell to confirm that notion. Thanks to technology developed at Brown University and research by Blob, graduate student Christopher Mayerl, and Elizabeth Brainerd, a Brown biologist, the myth has been busted. At least in part. In a paper published by the Journal of Experimental Biology, Mayerl, Blob and Brainerd describe seeing the pelvis of a cryptodire turtle--a river cooter--roll, pitch and yaw, much like a pelvis in any other vertebrate. It was the first time anyone had seen a turtle pelvis in motion.
Provided by Clemson University