Turtle embryos can communicate across eggs

River Murray Turtle embryos can adjust their developmental rate so that all the eggs in a clutch can hatch around the same time, a new study has found.

Young turtles face many challenges when they hatch and venture into the world. Synchronous hatching increases their survival chances, as predators are swamped by high numbers of prey. As a large group, hatchlings can also work together to dig their way out of the nest more easily.

Scientists investigated incubation and group hatching in the River Murray Turtle, which is a species restricted to the Murray-Darling River system in southeastern Australia. Although the temperature of the nest affects the developmental rate of eggs, researchers discovered another factor that influences their growth rate — embryo to embryo communication.

Turtle embryos are somehow communicating their developmental rates to each other so that they can emerge as a group, said Ricky-John Spencer, zoologist from the University of Western Sydney, and co-author of the study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society toda — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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