The Adaptation of a Painted Turtle in Winter

The painted turtle is an aquatic reptile with lovely, painterly markings on the underside edges of the shell, and along the neck and head. Like all reptiles, they are ectothermic – meaning they can’t create their own body heat, and must gain it from the surrounding environment. 

In the wintertime, this species, and other turtles like them, has evolved to brumate underwater. They settle along the muddy bottoms of ponds or lakes, and all of their life-giving functions slow down. The heart can slow down to one beat per every five to ten minutes. In that time, the turtle extracts oxygen from the water through its cloaca, or the vent from which she excretes and lays eggs. The painted turtle can remain in this near frozen state for up to five months. 

These sort of strange adaptations can be found throughout nature. Evolutionary progress that allows different creatures to occupy niches in nature that support the survival of their species.