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锘? The leatherback sea turtle could be the most amazing animal on earth. Like the other remaining species of marine turtle http://www.canadienssportsshop.com/adidas+andrew+shaw+canadiens+jersey , it left its four-footed land predecessors more than one hundred ten million years ago, developed flippers, and populated the Seven Seas---before there were Seven Seas.

Mother Earth was a very different place way back then.

Although humans look around at the world and imagine that the big mountains and long rivers we see today have always been there, nothing could be farther from the truth.

For example, today's mighty Himalayan Mountains were not mighty at all when turtles first entered the oceans. Indeed, there would be no Himalayas for sixty five million more years.

Antarctica was connected to Australia when the earliest leatherbacks took to the sea and would not uncouple from it for about thirty million more generations of these sea animals.

South America was not far from West Antarctica. Another 80,000,000 years would go by before Antarctica would turn into the frigid continent we see.

The South Atlantic Ocean was still forming. In fact, not only were there no Seven Seas way back then, there were not seven continents, either, only two supercontinents.

This ancient time spawned these ancient sea turtles.

When the ancestors of today's leatherbacks evolved into sea dwellers, there were no birds in the sky, no lions http://www.canadienssportsshop.com/adidas+andrei+markov+canadiens+jersey , tigers, or buffaloes because there were no birds or mammals at all on the globet.

The mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex would not terrorize the planet for about four hundred thousand centuries more. Yes, you read it correctly: 400,000 centuries.

Your biology teacher may have told you that dolphins and whales originated from land animals and went to sea long ago. That is really impressive! Except to a sea turtle. Why? Because leatherbacks had been swimming the world's oceans for more than fifty million years before those mighty creatures---which are closely related to hippopotamus---evolved, left the land, and entered the sea, as well.

These are the largest of all sea turtles and can weigh nearly a ton, They were here many eons before the first dinosaur, survived the greatest worldwide catastrophic extinction on earth, and flourished. But, that spectacular ability to adapt is not why they are so amazing.

Consider this: the world marveled , and deservedly so, at Michael Phelps' unbelievable speed when he set a world record in the 200 meter freestyle swim event in Beijing. But, in the time it took him to go that distance http://www.canadienssportsshop.com/adidas+alexei+kovalev+canadiens+jersey , a huge leatherback, weighing about as much as the entire offensive line of a professional football team, would pass the thousand meter mark---more than a third of a mile farther than Michael.

In fact, this magnificent relic is listed in the 1992 Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest reptile on earth!

It would be a fairer race if the world's fastest man ran alongside the swimming turtle. At 100 meters, the race would be very close and maybe won by a nose---by the human. At 400 meters, it'd be a blow-out---for the turtle.

Not only does this ancient being swim five times the speed of the fastest human on earth, it may also be the world's greatest long-distance migrating creature. One of these giants was monitored by researchers migrating 13,000 miles---one way.

Besides its incredible speed and stamina, it is the deepest diving sea turtle on the planet, regularly diving some 4,000 feet deep into the ocean. To put that depth into perspective, today's nuclear attack submarines are allowed to dive to a maximum normal operating depth of about 1,600 feet because they'd crush under the sea pressure at about 2,400 feet. Man's best technology and strongest metal and composite materials are no match for the diving ability of a one hundred million year old species.

There is also the incredible fact that leatherbacks are found not only in all tropical and subtropical waters on earth but have been seen as far north as the Arctic Circle http://www.canadienssportsshop.com/adidas+alexei+emelin+canadiens+jersey , in Alaska, near Quebec, and Norway, and as far south as the Cape of Good Hope and even below New Zealand, in waters as cold as 40F. Yet, although they are cold blooded reptiles, they remain nice and cozy because they can maintain a body temperature as much as 32F (18C) higher than the surrounding water.

Unfortunately, in the last 30 years, man's destructive capacity and willingness to do so have decimated the numbers of this magnificent creature. Between 1980 and 2005, the number of leatherback sea turtles in Mexico declined 99% , a a disaster for this species since that country had about two thirds of the world's total leatherbacks.

Mexico should not be singled out because, all across the globe, were collapsing. For example, just a few years ago 10 http://www.canadienssportsshop.com/adidas+alexander+radulov+canadiens+jersey ,000 leatherbacks nested in Malaysia each year. In 2008, there were two.

Today, there are hundreds of conservation organizations, and more than 100 countries, that are fighting to stem the decline of this magnificent race but it remains to be seen if this most ancient of all creatures can survive your generation and mine.

Somewhere, Angels are weeping.
Author's Resource Box

Victor C. Krumm lives in sunny Costa Rica and writes the popular Costa Rica Vacations website. Check out the great Costa Rica Seven Wonders

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