(Mirror Daily, United States) – It seems like scientists caught this week the oldest turtle ever registered. The 83 years old female Blanding’s turtle was found in a forest reserve of the University of Michigan. This species is also one of the oldest freshwater turtles ever discovered.
The female turtle, known as 3R11L, was captured around near Pinckney, 25 miles northwest of Ann Arbor in southwestern Livingston County, at U-M’s Edwin S. George Reserve, this Monday. The turtle was first captured and marked in 1954, at the beginning of the reserve’s turtle study. Since then, the female was recaptured over 50 times.
Researchers established that the turtle is around 83 years old because when it was first captured, the female had already reached sexual maturity. This species reach sexual maturity around the age of 20. According to Justin Congdon, one of the researchers and a professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, everyone was very excited about this capture and opened a bottle of Cabernet to celebrate.
Congdon and his team knew that there were only around 15 turtles left from the 1950s marking, so they decided to try and see if they could capture one. Until now, the oldest Blanding’s turtle ever caught was a 76-year-old specimen from Minnesota.
However, there are other species of turtles, such as tortoises, sea turtles, wood turtles and box turtles which are believed to have even a longer lifespan. According to Andrew Martin, dean of the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, this event shows how crucial is the investment and contribution of each generation to the biological sciences.
This specimen is living proof that a such a long study has paid off. According to Christopher Dick, U-M biologist, and director of the E.S. George Reserve, scientists understand more not only about the turtle’s lifespan but also about how they tackle the ecological changes in order to adapt.
Moreover, after the examination, Congdon believes that 3R11L is gravid. He said that he felt many soft-shelled eggs inside her. Reptiles usually reproduce until they die. Plus, the older a Blanding’s turtle is, the more eggs it lays.
Scientists have established that there are 250 snapping turtles, 250 Blanding’s and 1500 painted turtles in the reserve.