Sea Turtles use flippers to karate-chop prey, according to study

  • Sea turtles use their flippers to handle prey despite the limbs being designed for locomotion
  • The marine animal developed a new habit of using their flippers as hands for grasping jellyfish and karate-chopping their prey

Researchers have found that sea turtles have evolved to use their flippers like hands; allowing to grasp jellyfish and karate-chopping their prey.

They can also use their flippers to play with their food, grasp coral to eat the sponge clinging to its surface, and even ‘lick’ their fingers after eating.

These movements were previously thought to be too advanced for the small brains of the sea creatures.

“It’s amazing that they’re figuring out how to do this without any apprenticing, and with flippers that aren’t well adapted for these tasks,” said Dr. Kyle Van Houtan, science director at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, who co-led the research.

“Sea turtles don’t have a developed frontal cortex, independent articulating digits or any social learning. And yet here we have them ‘licking their fingers’ just like a kid who does have all those tools.”

Indeed, it’s truly amazing!