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They collected gravid female midland painted turtles and red-eared sliders from the wild, brought them to the lab, and injected them with oxytocin, a hormone that induces egg laying.
They assigned the hatchlings to two control groups, which they kept for 160 days on either a white or a black substrate, and to two "reversal" groups, which they kept for 80 days on white or black and then switched to a substrate of the opposite colour for another 80 days.
The researchers periodically used a spectrometer to measure the colour intensity of spots on each turtle's carapace and head.