Let's discuss tortoise evolution

Yvonne G

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We're always saying that tortoises evolved living, eating, acting a certain way and we need to try to provide that same way for them. But what about evolution? Who's to say our current day tortoises, especially the captive bred ones, aren't evolving. Maybe we don't need to be so strict in adhering to their old ways of living.
 

LJL1982

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We're always saying that tortoises evolved living, eating, acting a certain way and we need to try to provide that same way for them. But what about evolution? Who's to say our current day tortoises, especially the captive bred ones, aren't evolving. Maybe we don't need to be so strict in adhering to their old ways of living.
I swear my Tortoise is so dull sometimes I think he might be devolving 😆😆
 

TheLastGreen

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We're always saying that tortoises evolved living, eating, acting a certain way and we need to try to provide that same way for them. But what about evolution? Who's to say our current day tortoises, especially the captive bred ones, aren't evolving. Maybe we don't need to be so strict in adhering to their old ways of living.
I agree. When you say evolution, immediately you think about genotypes, being passed on, shaped by nature as some pass due to their environments and others live, passing their life saving gene on. But in human captivity, we save them, even sometimes preserving a gene that could have caused their death in some instances, so the opposite of nature. We try to mimick their environment, but we've realised sometimes they do better outside of the sporadic and sometimes random circumstances they find themselves in. Sometimes people say "But in nature..." and then I could flip. Yes in nature they survive, but in captivity, we try to let them thrive, trying to give conditions they would sometimes rarely experience in nature. Think about it, in a clutch of almost any wild tort eggs, most don't make it to adulthood, in captivity however, most of them do, and reach adulthood with proper care. So I agree with Yvonne again. Eventually torts can and will change due to artificial selection within species (be it accidental or not). So what they could need could change, but as evolution works it is slow, and it could be a while before their needs could change, but it could happen, but their is a chance it may stay on the current course.
Also speaking about evolution, it's weird to think this flat lizard that lived in the swampy, but now desert, karroo eventually became all the tort species we now today (It's debated that it could possibly not be the ancestor of all torts) Screenshot 20220513 193301 Google
(Eunotosaurus africanus)
But that's what I would say, @Markw84 would be the most qualified to answer that question
 

jaizei

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We're always saying that tortoises evolved living, eating, acting a certain way and we need to try to provide that same way for them. But what about evolution? Who's to say our current day tortoises, especially the captive bred ones, aren't evolving. Maybe we don't need to be so strict in adhering to their old ways of living.


I don't think it needs to be that current tortoises are 'evolving' as it is that the basic needs of many/most tortoises are largely the same. Matching or trying to recreate native habitats/foods may only be 'required' with some wild caught animals that have 'imprinted' with that life.
 

Tom

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We're always saying that tortoises evolved living, eating, acting a certain way and we need to try to provide that same way for them. But what about evolution? Who's to say our current day tortoises, especially the captive bred ones, aren't evolving. Maybe we don't need to be so strict in adhering to their old ways of living.
The kind of evolution you are talking about doesn't not happen in the space of a human lifetime. Not even close. I'm reminded of one obvious example of rapid "evolution" due to human activity. Here in the southwest it has been common for 200+ years to kill rattlesnakes on sight. People hear the rattle, find the snake, and shoot it or chop its head of with a shovel. The end result of that is that some rattle snakes don't rattle anymore. Seen it myself many times.

Your argument also goes back to what I always try to get across when there are forum discussions about what is the correct care for a given species. My assertion is that: Learning about their lives in the wild is great, but no matter how much we study it, much of it is a mystery. Case in point being "the lost years" from hatching to large juveniles size. Very little is known about where they go or what they do during that time. They remain hidden from view. Basing our care for a given species on the popular assumptions of their lives in the wild resulted in baby sulcatas being raised on rabbit pellets with no water bowl under a heat lamp. It was just yesterday or the day before that yet another new member incorrectly referred to a sulcata as a desert species. This dry routine of housing this species was based on incorrect assumptions of how they live in the wild in an effort to cater to their "old ways of living" that you mentioned.

What I try to propose is that yes, we should consider how we think they live in the wild and whatever facts we do have about that, but much more weight should be given to care methods that actually produce positive results in real life right in our own enclosures in our own homes every day. We can see first hand, over and over again, what happens when baby sulcatas have the dry routine compared to the monsoon routine, yet some people will still argue that how I house them is somehow unnatural. The opposite is true, but most people just don't understand these facts because of the rampant misinformation that is out in the world.
 

TammyJ

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We're always saying that tortoises evolved living, eating, acting a certain way and we need to try to provide that same way for them. But what about evolution? Who's to say our current day tortoises, especially the captive bred ones, aren't evolving. Maybe we don't need to be so strict in adhering to their old ways of living.
Of course our captive bred tortoises are evolving, just like we humans are, and all other animals . It just takes so darn LONG. Anyway, what with the destruction of natural habitats of animals all over this planet, it's a good and important thing that we are learning more about each captive species' particular needs in order to thrive, regardless of where we think they were before in nature or how we think they lived.
 

SasquatchTortoise

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Slightly off topic- it sounds like you are talking about ‘living fossils’- plants and animals that haven’t evolved in a long time. Crocodiles are one of the most common ’examples’. In reality, however most animals are changing all the time, if not on the outside, then on the inside.
Look up Planocraniidae- extinct European crocodiles that could gallop like a horse. Compare it to a modern crocodile. Obviously similar in appearance, but very different in behavior.
 

TammyJ

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Slightly off topic- it sounds like you are talking about ‘living fossils’- plants and animals that haven’t evolved in a long time. Crocodiles are one of the most common ’examples’. In reality, however most animals are changing all the time, if not on the outside, then on the inside.
Look up Planocraniidae- extinct European crocodiles that could gallop like a horse. Compare it to a modern crocodile. Obviously similar in appearance, but very different in behavior.
Our modern day crocs, well, they can "gallop" too when they are ready. It seems to me, and I am just an interested dummy here, that reptiles evolve much slower than mammals? So they still look and behave very similar to how they looked way way back? 🙊
 

SasquatchTortoise

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Our modern day crocs, well, they can "gallop" too when they are ready. It seems to me, and I am just an interested dummy here, that reptiles evolve much slower than mammals? So they still look and behave very similar to how they looked way way back? 🙊
https://www.livescience.com/7845-mammals-beat-reptiles-battle-evolution.html
you are right. Reptiles evolve slower than other animals, but its not entirely known why.
Here’ another article
https://www.scientificamerican.com/...zards-slow-and-steady-evolution-won-the-race/
most animals quickly evolve and then slow evolution for a while, but reptiles are more steady.

I guess what I should have said is that the term ‘living fossils’ is only partly true.
 

Cathie G

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Well... I think animals have to evolve constantly in order to survive mother nature's whims anyway but if in our care not so much. Every time I read about life expectancy it always goes up in captivity. Even though we don't know everything, we do a better job evidently.🤗
 

Tom

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Every time I read about life expectancy it always goes up in captivity. Even though we don't know everything, we do a better job evidently.🤗
This goes back to the fact that life in the wild is extremely taxing and difficult. One wrong move and you are dead. It is cruel, harsh, and totally unforgiving. Even if you don't make one wrong move you might still die due to weather extremes, drought, disease, etc...

Captive life, on the other hand, when done even just satisfactorily, avoids almost all of the torture hardship and strife of wild living. No diseases, no dehydration, no famine, no predation, no temperature extremes or wild weather to deal with. Most species live about twice as long in captivity as they would in the wild, but that is just the survivors. If you count the number of babies that don't even make it to the juvenile stage, it would skew that number far more. In some tortoise species, only one baby will survive to adulthood out of every 300-1000 that hatch. In most cases, captive hatched tortoises have a 90% or better survival rate. Sulcata and desert tortoise babies might be lower than that because so many people mistakenly think they need dry desiccating conditions, but they would be the exceptions.
 

TammyJ

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This goes back to the fact that life in the wild is extremely taxing and difficult. One wrong move and you are dead. It is cruel, harsh, and totally unforgiving. Even if you don't make one wrong move you might still die due to weather extremes, drought, disease, etc...

Captive life, on the other hand, when done even just satisfactorily, avoids almost all of the torture hardship and strife of wild living. No diseases, no dehydration, no famine, no predation, no temperature extremes or wild weather to deal with. Most species live about twice as long in captivity as they would in the wild, but that is just the survivors. If you count the number of babies that don't even make it to the juvenile stage, it would skew that number far more. In some tortoise species, only one baby will survive to adulthood out of every 300-1000 that hatch. In most cases, captive hatched tortoises have a 90% or better survival rate. Sulcata and desert tortoise babies might be lower than that because so many people mistakenly think they need dry desiccating conditions, but they would be the exceptions.
So maybe since they thrive and live longer in "correct" captivity, they won't evolve at all because there is no challenge. Or it would slow right down.🐢
 

Tom

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So maybe since they thrive and live longer in "correct" captivity, they won't evolve at all because there is no challenge. Or it would slow right down.🐢
Hmmm... I don't know the answer to that. A person could argue it either way. What I CAN see is that some species readily adapt to captive housing, while others just don't. Sulcatas, leopards, Burmese stars, being examples of the former, and impressa, Chersina, and kinixsys, being examples of the latter that are much more difficult.
 

Cathie G

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This goes back to the fact that life in the wild is extremely taxing and difficult. One wrong move and you are dead. It is cruel, harsh, and totally unforgiving. Even if you don't make one wrong move you might still die due to weather extremes, drought, disease, etc...

Captive life, on the other hand, when done even just satisfactorily, avoids almost all of the torture hardship and strife of wild living. No diseases, no dehydration, no famine, no predation, no temperature extremes or wild weather to deal with. Most species live about twice as long in captivity as they would in the wild, but that is just the survivors. If you count the number of babies that don't even make it to the juvenile stage, it would skew that number far more. In some tortoise species, only one baby will survive to adulthood out of every 300-1000 that hatch. In most cases, captive hatched tortoises have a 90% or better survival rate. Sulcata and desert tortoise babies might be lower than that because so many people mistakenly think they need dry desiccating conditions, but they would be the exceptions.
Yes 😊
 

Sam & Ella

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We're always saying that tortoises evolved living, eating, acting a certain way and we need to try to provide that same way for them. But what about evolution? Who's to say our current day tortoises, especially the captive bred ones, aren't evolving. Maybe we don't need to be so strict in adhering to their old ways of living.
Twenty-four years ago, my hatchling redfoots seemed as stupid as rocks with legs. Still seem that way. Twenty-two years ago, my hatchling brother and sister pancakes seemed pretty clever. Now their grandkids can read The Tortoise and the Hare, but I have to log in online for them.
 

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