Peek inside a Leatherback Turtle’s (Dermochelys coriacea) mouth: How to eat jelly fish when your mouth is an exquisitely evolved jellyfish deathbed.
We know turtles like to eat jellyfish, and the Leatherback likes them most of all. However, this is the biggest turtle, consuming a prey that extremely low nutritional value, therefore it has to nom on a lot of them. As it does so, it takes in saltwater as well. The jellies and the saltwater get stored in the esophagus.
What happens next you ask? Is it to do with the horrific looking backwards facing spines that don’t look comfortable in anything’s mouth?
But of course! Because that is the beauty of evolution, the refined logic of adaptation.
The muscles of the esophagus squeeze the seawater out of the mouth and the spines, which get progressively larger down the esophagus, hold the jellyfish in place. Once all the water is gone, the jellies are passed into the stomach.
This is one of the many *awesome* characteristics of the leatherback turtle - trawling for jellyfish on this earth for over 90 million year.
Trawling for fish/shrimp (by humans, not leatherbacks), is one of the reasons Leatherbacks are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Source: Evolution FB