Tuesday, May 01, 2012

"Giving Witness"

Common Snapping Turtle; Main Road; Everglades National Park; October 2011
I originally posted the above photograph of a common snapping turtle at the edge of the main road in Everglades National Park in October 2011, while I was an AIRIE program participant.

I thought of the turtle portrait when I read Ted Levin's informative and compelling "The Staying Power of Snapping Turtles," published in the March/April 2012 issue of Audubon Magazine.

The selection below emphasizes the fact that Chelydra serpentina is an elder member of our extended fauna family.
"The snapping turtle family, Chelydridae, evolved in North America and has haunted our wetlands almost unchanged for nearly 90 million years. Ancestors spread to Eurasia about 40 million years ago and then disappeared from that continent in the late Pliocene, about two million years ago. Chelydrids have been sequestered in the Western Hemisphere ever since, which makes them among our truest and oldest turtles. They were present when dinosaurs lived and died, and had been laying round, white, leathery eggs in sandy loam and glacial till for millions of years when the first Amerindians wandered over the Bering Land Bridge. Snapping turtles have witnessed the drift of continents, the birth of islands, the drowning of coastlines, the rise and fall of mountain ranges, the spread of prairies and deserts, the comings and goings of glaciers."
When I think in terms of the life of a species (rather than that of an individual representative), my pulse slows and I'm suddenly calm....and deeply appreciative to be a part of so grand an experience.

Photo credit: Hungry Hyaena (Christopher Reiger), 2011

1 comment:

amytalluto said...

They do look prehistoric...I'll occasionally see a giant one slowly crossing the road to a nearby pond with that long-ass alligator tale flapping about.