Naturespeak A naturalist's view of the world

April 17, 2007

Basking in Glory

Filed under: Uncategorized — wykes @ 9:31 pm

April 17, 2007

  The mid-day sun was as high as it was going to get on this breezy, but pleasant, 45 degree day.  Several Painted Turtles were out claiming their piece of the solar pie and basking in its life-giving rays.  One found full exposure on the angled surface of a muskrat lodge, while another clamored onto a raft of floating cat-tail stems.
  A large female, with a smooth olive green shell, sits upon a perch provided by a pair of bent over cat-tail stalks.  Like the others, she is in a full sun-worship pose. Her yellow streaked neck is extended and her nose is pointed skyward. All four legs are spread eagled out to the four cardinal directions.  Even the toes of her hind foot are fanned out in order to expose the ample webbing connecting them.    Except for indignant glances from side to side, all of the turtles are motionless and locked into their task with a trancelike commitment. 
 Basking is serious business – a time honored way to re-charge bio batteries. Thanks in part to this solar powered behavior, Painted Turtles range farther north than any other North American turtle (although Snapping Turtles give them a run…er, a crawl for their money in that department).  These hardy reptiles have even been seen swimming under the ice in late winter.  It appears that they don’t actively feed until the water temperature gets closer to 70 degrees (indigestion, you know), but they become active as soon as the sun provides enough energy for them to do so. Just because they are cold-blooded doesn’t mean they have cold feet.
  Specific evidence of the painted turtle here in Michigan dates back to our last glaciation event. Conditions were much cooler at that time, yet they thrived none the less. A S.E. Michigan site which yielded 12,000 year old Mastodon remains also produced two Painted Turtle shell fragments. One piece was from a male and the other from a female.
  One can only imagine the scene where Adam and Eve, our lowly little turtles, are basking comfortably under the Ice Age sun.  A lumbering mastodon enters the marsh and with two well placed steps accidentally pile drives them deep into the muck.  The paleo elephant gets stuck and dies in the mire alongside his victims. 
  Twelve thousand springs later, we’re still revolving around that same sun.  The Mastodons are no longer here as a species to enjoy it, but the Painted Turtles are still soaking it all in.

1 Comment »

  1. you can avoid indigestion by eating high fiber foods.,-“

    Comment by William Roberts — June 30, 2010 @ 6:08 am

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