Sunday, June 10, 2012

Turtle Life Part 3: Summer Months

A developing turtle embryo!

Its now early July and you have been developing well. Your sexual structures have not yet developed and whether you will grow boy parts or girl parts is now being determined.  This years temperatures are about average, and your nest is in a sunny spot.  In particular, during the afternoon, there is no shade covering your nest.  These warm temperatures increase the developmental rate, meaning cells are dividing faster and your body is growing quickly.  When you are at a cooler temperature you develop more slowly.  Since you are at a warm temperature certain genes are telling your body to produce hormones that direct your developing tissue to become ovaries as opposed to testes.  This means you are a girl! 

Development proceeds rapidly as this summer is very warm. In early August, you are almost completely developed and it’s about time to hatch.  You have a special scale on the end of your nose called an egg tooth.  You slit the leathery shell and take your first breath of air.  Over the next day or two you will completely crawl out of your shell.  All of your siblings are doing the same thing right now.  Within a day, there will no longer be a nest filled with eggs but now a nest filled with you and your baby turtle siblings.   You might think that the next step is to crawl out of the nest, but in fact, your chances of survival are much better if you sit tight, and endure the coming winter months in the comfort of your nest.

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