Control and ecological significance of embryonic development in turtles and crocodiles

Turtle embryos pause development within the mother’s oviduct, allowing the mother to delay nesting. I investigated how this process is controlled. I found that embryos take 12 hours to start developing again once laid. I also showed that you can keep embryos paused by maintaining them in low-oxygen environments after laying, allowing safe transportation of eggs for research and conservation purposes. I showed that this physiological phenomenon may also be important for the nesting strategy and reproductive success of olive ridley and leatherback sea turtles. Finally, I found that, unlike turtles, crocodilian embryos do not pause development in low-oxygen.