ABSTRACT

We examined variation in claw length of hatchling and adult red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans). Hind claw length of adult females was greater than that of adult males, and we suggest that increased hind claw length in females (a previously unrecognized sexually dimorphic trait) may serve as an adaptation for nest construction. In addition, front and hind claws of hatchlings newly emerged from their eggs were longer than the front and hind claws of hatchlings that were captured during their migration toward aquatic habitats; relatively long claws could aid hatchlings in their escape from nests and migration to aquatic habitats.

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