It is no wonder the tortoise won the race…he was smarter than the hare.

3 Jan


Many people believe reptiles to be dim witted but I know that is far from the truth.  Through my radio tracking studies of box turtles I have observed some truly amazing things about the life of the box turtle. How do they find and follow the same paths, feeding, nesting and over-wintering areas and even sometimes the same mates year after year?  They are obviously not using radio tracking devices, high tech satellite-linked computers or GPS systems like we big brained primates seem to think we need to get around.  New studies are beginning to show that the chelonians (turtles and tortoises) are far brighter than we have ever believed.  Over the years my observations of the turtles in the Turtle Tracks study have led me to believe without a doubt that the tiny brain of the box turtle has much more intelligence and capability to learn than we have ever thought possible. Researchers have begun to discover that in fact tortoises (and turtles I’m sure) do in fact have much more going on inside their little noggins than we give them credit. Take a look at this article from New Scientist and read all about it and then, the next time you encounter a chelonian, marvel at it’s existence.  Feel humbled that we “advanced” animals need our invented technologies and education to navigate our way through life but the chelonian needs only the adaptations, instincts and smarts they are born with to make a good living in the wild…and that they have done so since the time of the dinosaurs.  Nature never ceases to amaze and astound me.

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2 Responses to “It is no wonder the tortoise won the race…he was smarter than the hare.”

  1. rosemarydlombard 03/30/2012 at 3:28 am #

    I can’t agree more. I’m glad to see growing appreciation for their abilities, which, in most academic circles have been underestimated and little studied for so long. As an independent scholar I’ve been exploring chelonian cognition from the behavioral side for three decades. What happens when captive turtles are socialized, given a certain amount of power, mobility, and behavioral enrichment? High motivation, play, exploration, learning, initiative, and accomplishments including novel gestures, mirror self-recognition, non-species-specific vocalizations, drawing, and so on. We’re the ones who do the annual lecture-demonstrations on and with pancake tortoises for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

  2. Elly Wiebe 03/30/2012 at 12:02 pm #

    We have witnessed many times the amazing ability of Rosemary’s turtles to “read-talk,” draw, self-recognition, etc. You need to check her out.

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