Categories
Travel

This is a Tortoise hunting and eating a baby!Bird

This is a Tortoise hunting and eating a baby!Bird
What is the secret to chasing down birds by one of Earth’s slowest creatures? Take a look.

Not to ruin cute herbivores for you, but it turns out the Aldabra giant tortoise knows how to hunt.

Scientists have just released the video footage of Fregate Island’s giant tortoise killing and eating its baby bird. The footage below shows a tern (a type of seabird) chick that fell from a tree to land on a log. The tortoise slowly approaches the chick, its mouth open, and pushes it back towards the branch. To defend its self, the bird attempts to eat at the tortoise’s head and flap its wings. The reptile finally latches on to the chick and instantly kills it. The tortoise then swallows the whole of its limp body. Unfortunately, the tortoise didn’t capture that bit of eating, but maybe it was fortunately for those who are a little more squeamish.

These tortoises are mostly vegetarians but biologists previously confirmed that they eat birds and crabs. It’s not clear if they deliberately killed animals or just scavenging protein from any animal they stepped on. Fregate Island residents have seen tortoises hunting in this manner. Justin Gerlach (a Peterhouse College biologist and coauthor of a paper in Current Biology) says that this is the first evidence of deliberate tortoise hunting and the killing of for food. It shows that they are not the opportunists we have assumed in certain situations. They can also be predators which is quite disturbing.”

Tortoises are more herbivorous that herbivores, which tend to be slow-moving and methodical creatures that rely heavily on their shells as protection. This is in contrast to a animal such as a deer which can run away from predators. They also hunt for food, which can lead to deer being unable to escape predators. Gerlach says that if there is a dead animal, many herbivores will eat a little bit, getting extra protein, different minerals, and amino acids.

Gerlach believes that this type of hunting has been seen before and therefore the behaviour cannot be isolated to one instance. Anna Zora is the lead author of the paper. She does conservation work at the Fregate Island Foundation.

The giant tortoise’s hunting behaviour seems to reflect a combination of environmental quirks. Fregate Island is both tropically and densely forested, so terns often nest in the trees. The ground, however, is the home of its predators like lizards or crabs. The forest floor provides shelter for all chicks that are not yet capable of flying. Its instincts dictate that it should perch on a tree, at all cost. The video shows the bird backing up on the tree as the tortoise approaches. Instead of jumping into the leaf litter to escape, you can clearly see this in action. Gerlach says, “You have a source for meat but you also need something that cannot run away from a turtle–and nearly any can go faster than a turtle.” It’s a tree nester and wants to avoid the ground because it is the place where there is all danger.

The tortoise can be quite vulnerable in what appears an unfair battle. The tortoise has a thick shell that protects its body but the eyes of its chick are not protected. The chick pecks like its life is at stake, and it does. Gerlach says that they don’t like objects getting close to their eyes. Gerlach says that they are very cautious with this part because it is the most vulnerable. This tortoise actually puts itself in danger. Lose one eye, and it becomes much harder to survive. Two eyes and you will soon die.

It is not an easy dinner and it’s certainly not a matter of luck. Gerlach states that the tortoise hunts like it understands what it is doing. It backs up the chick until the log edge is reached and its instincts tell the bird to stop.

Is a tortoise even able to digest meat? Gerlach says, “Nobody has ever looked at it at all.” Gerlach says, “They don’t eat meat. Why would they bother looking?”

He believes that herbivores must still be capable of extracting amino acids from meat, as some scavenging occurs. He says that animal protein is easy to digest. He says that “Digesting plant matter” is an evolutionarily hard task because it’s made from tough materials such as cellulose.

Gregory Pauly of the Natural History Museum Los Angeles County is the curator of herpetology and said that what is tragic for one chick can actually be a positive sign for all the Fregate Island birds. This means birds are returning, and tortoises will take full advantage of it. He wrote an email to WIRED, stating that both the bird and tortoise populations in this region had decreased due to habitat destruction and introductions of large grazing mammals and rats, as well as human exploitation. As habitat restoration efforts have improved the bird population, it was impossible to observe predatory interactions such as those described until recent years.

Is it possible for tortoises to learn how to hunt in this way? What is their frequency? Gerlach states that they don’t really know if this observation is just an intriguing one or if it’s really a significant development in both the ecology and ecology of the island. We are still at the “Lots of Questions” stage.

More Great WIRED Stories

Publited at Mon, 23 August 2021 16:37:25 +0000

Newslanes Media

By Newslanes Media

Newslanes.com is the leading e-news platform for the latest breaking news of world today. Newslanes auto aggregates and gather popular stories, business news, tech releases and much more for free for everyone. The news repository targets everyone after factual and well-researched information provided by trusted sources. All content and material belongs to their respective sources.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.