Research hatches new gender clues about turtle embryos

Turtle embryos can determine their own sex while developing in the egg by moving around to change their temperature, Chinese-Australian research has revealed.

By monitoring clutches of turtle eggs, scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Australia’s Macquarie University showed that not only does temperature determine the sex of turtle hatchlings, the embryos actually shift within the eggs to change their own outcome.

“We previously demonstrated that reptile embryos could move around within their egg for thermoregulation, so we were curious about whether this could affect their sex determination,” said Professor Du Weiguo from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In most turtles species, eggs exposed to high temperatures are more likely to be female and eggs exposed to cooler temperatures are more likely to be male.