April 25, 2013

Turtle survived a 15 minute fight with an alligator

The South American alligator spent 15 minutes trying to break the turtle's shell but failed
A turtle survived a 15 minute fight with an alligator that failed to break its protective shell. 

An alligator bites down with a force of up to 2,900 pounds of pressure but despite its strength, this reptile was still unable to crack the turtle's shell. 

Amazing photographs captured the tussle in the wild as the six foot South American alligator attempted to prise the shell open. 

The Eastern River Cooter's shell managed to protect as it lay helpless in the alligator's jaws. 

Many academic studies have been carried out into the forces a turtle's shell can withstand.

The turtle was powerless as it was clamped in the alligator's jaws but survived because of its shell
Researchers have been continually interested in the evolution and design of the shell and applying it to human armour. 

Although the shell protects turtle's from most predators, larger animals such as crocodiles, alligators and even jaguars are normally able to crush the carapace in order to get to the reptile's body.

Although expets say the exact strength of a shell depends on the size of the animal, researhers say the animals evolved the shell to avoid being eaten - and as these pictures show, it works.

Tiger sharks can also bite through turtles of all sizes and other predators nibble around the softer edges of the armour to pull the turtle out. 
The protective shell is made from bone covered by a horny shield. 

Plates of bone are fused with ribs, vertebrae and parts of the shoulder and hip. 

The Eastern River Cooter's shell managed to protect it from thousands of pounds of pressure in the alligator's bite
The shape of the shell also gives it extra strength. 

The images were taken by American wildlife photographer Patrick Castleberry, 51, who said he was astounded to find the turtle still alive after the alligator had abandoned it. 

Mr Castleberry, who was studying herons in the Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia, said: 'It was definitely turtle one, alligator nil.

'I was taking shots of a great heron and saw out the corner of my eye what looked like a ball bouncing beside the water.

'I quickly realised what it was and thought the alligator was going to win in the end at cracking the shell.

'When he finally gave up I walked over to the turtle expecting it to be dead and was amazed to find it quite alive and on its back. I flipped it over and it scrambled into the water.' 

The photographer regularly spends hours on end dressed in full camouflage gear to get up close and personal with nature to capture it at its wildest.

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