“All seven species have traded ability to retreat into their shells for water speed. Forelegs that have evolved into flippers propel them faster than any human ever ran. The aptly named leatherback has even traded away its shell. Like dinosaurs, many of which were its contemporaries, it can heat its blood—‘earth’s last warm-blooded monster reptile,’ ecologist Carl Safina calls it in his book Voyage of the Turtle. It swims above the Arctic Circle and dives to at least 3,900 feet—deeper than sperm whales. The world’s heaviest reptile, it can weigh more than 1,900 pounds. The last natural land predator of adult female leatherbacks may have been Tyrannosaurus Rex. Humanity has reduced sea turtles by something like 95 percent.”
—From “After Steep Decline, Signs of Hope for World’s Sea Turtles,” Ted Williams’ story at Yale Environment 360
onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.