Sea Turtle Evolution

It is believed that the first sea turtles roamed Earth more than 245 million years ago. It is believed they were part of the late Triassic Period based on fossil records. It is believed that these sea creatures where once land animals that evolved to spend most of their time in the water in order to survive. They were very similar to land turtles but much larger.

They would have lived of prey that was on land. When that wasn’t available they had to evolve in order to live on what was found in the waters around them. The one part that didn’t change was the deposit of their eggs on land.

There is sufficient evidence to indicate the sea turtles did go back and forth between land and sea during the Mesozoic Period. However, by the Cretaceous Period they had evolved and were in the water mainly as they now had flippers to help them. Soon after they developed their hard shells as a form of protection.  It isn’t known exactly when this took place.

It is believed that this significant change in their lifestyle occurred approximately 120 million years ago. It is believed that the evolution process for sea turtles took place very rapidly instead of slowly over a long period of time. This suggests to researchers that there were some significant changes that took place on Earth. Perhaps the same one that caused so many other animals in the world to either evolve or to become extinct.

Those reptiles that did survive were mainly the ones that took to the water and underwent an evolutionary change that could help them to continue on. It is believed that the sea turtles looked very different back then compared to what we see today. They were likely much larger and had different color. They may have had longer necks like other reptiles as well.

Not all species though were successful enough to evolve and to survive. There have been enough findings of the Archelon that date back about 65 million years ago. It is believed they were the largest sea turtles ever to walk the Earth. They would have been close to 13 feet in length. With the technology available today we are able to extract more information from fossils than ever before.

Fossils continue to be found all the time that shed new light on the evolution process of sea turtles. For example a skull was found in 1996 around the area of South Dakota. It is believed to be more than 70 million years old. It is also the largest sea turtle fossil found to date. This shows us that sea turtles are approximately half the size today of what they were before evolving.

While we do have some excellent theories about sea turtle evolution as well as some evidence, there still remains plenty of mystery about it. Hopefully we will continue to uncover new evidence that can fill in the gaps. What we also need to focus our attention on is the future for sea turtles. They need our help because it doesn’t appear that they will be evolving back into land animals.

They have come so far throughout history by evolving. Yet they continue to be threatened with their survival due to human destruction of them and their natural habitat. If we don’t want sea turtles to only be a part of history then we must take action to protect them now.