In this screengrab from a YouTube video, a turtle approaches the larger of two model turtles on the right. (Gregory Bulte via The Canadian Press)

‘Sex dolls’ help biologist study turtle mating habits

3D-printed ‘sex dolls’ help Carleton biologist find out what turtles find attractive in a female

Using 3D-printed “sex dolls” a Carleton University researcher has answered a question biologists had been asking for years — what do northern map turtles find attractive in a female.

Biologist Gregory Bulte says he’s been studying the mating habits of the northern map turtle for about 15 years, but the turtles are skittish and hard to observe because they mate on the bottom of lakes.

RELATED: Sex robots could help your marriage

He says the females can grow to twice the length of males and he wondered whether males might be attracted to larger females.

Bulte says he and his colleagues printed two 3D printed “sex dolls” of female turtles, identical in every aspect except size, and placed them a metre apart on the lake bed, with cameras rigged up to record how wild males reacted.

As predicted, Bulte says the males attempted to mate with the large model more often than the smaller one.

He says that by selecting larger females, males would increase the fitness of their offspring because larger females produce larger hatchlings and he plans to continue his research using the models.

“For these turtles it would be very difficult to have somebody just sitting there taking notes underwater without scaring them away,” he said Wednesday.

RELATED: The coming disruption: How robots might upend different professions

Bulte said the models could also allow scientists to look at other traits involved in the turtles’ mating behaviour.

“We could look at colour … the markings, we could do that across seasons to see if it changes,” he said.

The northern map turtle is listed as a species at risk in Canada and is found in lakes and rivers in the corridor between Montreal and Windsor, Ont., Bulte said.

Bulte also said he’s going to need some help going through the data he has collected.

“Now I’m just hoping to find a really good student that is willing to watch a lot of turtle videos,” he said.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Colwood’s Esi Edugyan wins $100K Giller prize for Washington Black

Edugyan won her first Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues

Help Polar Express and pancakes fight child hunger

Rotary of Victoria and Breakfast2Music look for event sponsors

More opioid harm reduction resources needed for B.C. youth

Front-line workers advocate for a youth-targeted supervised consumption site in Greater Victoria

Good energy marks third annual celebration of welcome pole

Nov. 22 is Sno’uyutth day in Oak Bay with good energy at Windsor Park beginning at 7 p.m.

Peninsula cab companies want level playing field with ride-hailing legislation

Taxi services concerned they’ll be undercut by Uber, Lyft

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

COLUMN: Higher interest rates will slow B.C. economy after ‘unusually robust’ show

Jock Finlayson is executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

Jason Aldean, Old Dominion to headline Merritt’s Rockin’ River concerts next summer

Four-day music festival at Coldwater River from Aug. 1 to 4

Takedown of deranged, slashing man with knife earns Vancouver Island RCMP officers bravery honour

“The members feel they were just doing their job, I have to disagree. They went above and beyond.”

Courtenay’s new council cycles to its first meeting

Councillors kick off term on two wheels to make a statement

Nanaimo billing ‘drug and theft house’ for police calls

City takes steps under nuisance property bylaw

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Bovine tuberculosis found in cow on southern B.C. farm

CFIA said the disease was found during slaughter and they are investigating

Most Read