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

Reel Reviews: Atypical college life

We say, “Life of the Party is pleasant and harmless.”

Fun and games, medieval style

more fun than watching the royal wedding

Families honoured by Penticton Speedway Memorial race

Young Guns Memorial Weekend is held at the Penticton Speedway this weekend

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

Canada’s G7 goal on development: luring private capital to poor nations

G7 finance and international development ministers convene in British Columbia next week

Congressional leaders to review information on Russia probe

Trump said he will “demand” that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign

Canadians stranded in Cuba after plane crash returning home

Montreal-based travel agency says hundreds of Canadians who were stuck in Cuba since a plane crash last week are returning home

As summit looms, North Korean media return to angry tone

North Korean media are stepping up their rhetorical attacks on South Korea and joint military exercises with the United States

Maple Leafs lose another executive after parting ways with assistant GM

The Toronto Maple Leafs say club and assistant general manager Mark Hunter have mutually agreed to part ways.

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

Talking music at Penticton’s Dream Café

Listen Up! to Holger Petersen

Most Read