Assertions that the “conventional” rate of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) evolution is reduced in poikilotherms in general and turtles in particular were tested for side-necked turtles (Pleurodira: Chelidae). Homologous data sets of mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene sequences were used to compare the average divergence between the Australian and South American species for two Gondwanan groups: the chelid turtles and the marsupials. The mean nucleotide divergences between continental groups for both the turtles and the marsupials are remarkably similar. These data suggest that the rate of evolution of mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene is not substantially slower in turtles than in the homeothermic marsupials.
Seddon, J. M., Baverstock, P. R., & Georges, A. (1998). The rate of mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene evolution is similar in freshwater turtles and marsupials. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 46(4), 460-464. https://doi.org/10.1007/PL00006326