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Amazing Facts About Turtles and Tortoise

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Written on 3:10 AM by Mrudula


  • Turtles have been on the earth for more than 200 million years. They evolved before mammals, birds, crocodiles, snakes, and even lizards.
  • Sea turtles excrete salt absorbed in sea water from their eyes, which is why they seem to cry.

  • The earliest turtles had teeth and could not retract their heads, but other than this, modern turtles are very similar to their original ancestors.
  • Some female turtles produce eggs four years after mating.

  • Several species of turtles can live to be over a hundred years of age including the American Box Turtle.
  • Turtles age back from the Triassic age, 200 million years ago.

  • One documented case of longevity involves an adult Indian Ocean Giant Tortoise that when captured as an adult was estimated to be fifty years old. It then lived another 152 years in captivity.

  • Turtles live on every continent except Antarctica.
  • All chelonian turtles lay their eggs on land, even the marine turtles.
  • Turtles range in size from the 4-inch Bog Turtle to the 1500 pound Leathery Turtle.
  • The leatherback turtle is the largest sea turtle at 6 and a half feet long and weighing up to 1,500 lb.

  • Berlandier hatchlingsTurtles will live in almost any climate warm enough to allow them to complete their breeding cycle.
  • The soft shelled turtle uses it's long tip nose and nostrils like a snorkel to breath under water.

  • While most turtles do not tolerate the cold well, the Blanding's turtle has been observed swimming under the ice in the Great Lakes region.
  • Hawkbill turtles feast off sea sponges which are highly poisonous to most sea animals, but not to this turtle.

  • Turtles range in size from the 4-inch Bog Turtle to the 1500-pound Leathery Turtle.

  • North America contains a large variety of turtle species, but Europe contains only two species of turtle and three species of tortoise.
  • Turtles live on every continent except Antarctica. While most turtles don't tolerate the cold well, the Blanding's Turtle has been observed swimming under the ice in the Great Lakes region.

  • domed shell of adult and juvenile Redfoot TurtlesThe top domed part of a turtle's shell is called the carapace and the bottom underlying part is called the plastron.

  • The shell of a turtle is made up of 60 different bones all connected together.

  • The bony portion of the shell is covered with plates (scutes) that are derivatives of skin and offer additional strength and protection.
  • Several species of turtles can live to be over 100 years of age, including the American Box Turtle. One Indian Ocean Giant Tortoise that was captured as an adult, estimated to be 50 years old, then lived another 152 years in captivity.

  • flat shell of a Pancake TortoiseMost land tortoises have high domed carapaces that offer protection from the snapping jaws of terrestrial predators. Aquatic turtles tend to have flatter more aerodynamically shaped shells. An exception to the dome-shaped tortoise shell is the Pancake Tortoise of East Africa that will wedge itself between narrow rocks when threatened and then inflates itself with air making extraction nearly impossible.
  • A snake-neck turtle's neck is as long as its body.

  • Most turtle species have five toes on each limb with a few exceptions including the American Box Turtle of the carolina species that only has four toes, and in some cases, only three.
  • Hingeback and box turtles each have hinges on their shells that actaully allow them to completely enter their shell by closing up the openings.

  • Turtles have good eyesight and an excellent sense of smell. Hearing and sense of touch are both good and even the shell contains nerve endings.
  • The earliest turtles had teeth and could not retract their heads.
  • Only one out of one thousand sea turtles survive after hatching.

  • Some aquatic turtles can absorb oxygen through the skin on their neck and cloacal areas allowing them to remain submerged underwater for extended periods of time and enabling them to hibernate underwater.
  • Some land turtles can actually out run a human on level ground.

  • Turtles are one of the oldest and most primitive groups of reptiles and have outlived many other species. One can only wonder if their unique shell is responsible for their success.
  • The soft shelled turtle uses it's long tip nose and nostrils like a snorkel to breath under water.

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