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Hotter sands triggered by a warming climate could cause greater numbers of sea turtles to be born female, increasing the reptiles’ numbers in the short term, research shows.
But the study, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, warns that once the sands in which sea turtle eggs incubate grow too warm, the population could become entirely female, risking the animal’s extinction.
“Sea turtles are unusual in that the gender of the offspring is not driven by sex chromosomes, as in humans,” said Professor Graeme Hays, one of the lead authors of the study.
Instead, a sea turtle’s sex is determined by the temperature of the sand in which the female turtle buries her eggs.