Huge turtles don’t just feed on leaves.
You probably haven’t seen a slower duel between the predator and the prey. For the first time, scientists have managed to shoot a giant tortoise during a hasty hunt.
Footage captured on the island of Frigate Seychelles. A female giant tortoise hunts a young bird from the gull family, which apparently fell out of the nest.
“I didn’t believe my own eyes. It was scary and amazing at the same time,” describes hunting in a press release from Cell Press, biologist Justin Gerlach of the University of Cambridge.
The tortoise in the shots focuses on the small bird and slowly heads towards it. When he gets close enough to him, he sticks out his head and clicks his mouth. He does this several times, of course, constantly very slowly. Finally, he grabs the cub’s head and swallows it once.
Scientists have known for a long time that slow tortoises are not just herbivores. They saw them eating meat, bones or boxes. But it was not yet clear whether they had caught their animal food.
The shots from the Seychelles are thus the first evidence of the predatory behavior of the giant tortoise. It is not yet clear how widespread it is. The observations were described by scientists as well in the scientific journal Current Biology.