Iowa State University researchers have shifted their thinking in regard to the idea that turtles are immune to old age.
Data has been collected on painted turtles in the Mississippi River near Clinton, Iowa for almost 30 years. The results show that female turtles show a steep decline in fertility near the end of their lives. These findings are in direct contrast to what scientists believe when it comes to turtles and aging.
Iowa State scientists recently had their findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an academic publication that is peer-reviewed.
Fredric Janzen, professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, is the lead on the team. He has collected a large amount of data on the turtles in Clinton over the years. According to Janzen, turtles are icons when it comes to longevity and the assumption was that there was no cost to reproduction right up to the end of their lives.
Janzen’s research showed that the painted turtles have a long and graceful aging period, just as expected. However, that long period ends with a steep decline in fertility.