Information about: Turtle

Index | Turtle


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Turtle. The popular name for any species of the order Chelonia, which comprises three sub-orders, land tortoises, fresh water terrapins, and sea turtles. The body is inclosed in an exo-skeleton or shell consisting of an upper convex part, the carapace, and a lower, flatter portion called the plastron. The jaws are encased in horn and have a sharp-cutting edge. The tortoises and terrapins are land and fresh water animals, and turtles are marine. The turtles have limbs modified for swimming; the tortoises have toes furnished with claws. Turtles sometimes live at a great distance from land, to which they periodically return to deposit their soft-shelled eggs (from 100 to 250 in number) in the sand. They are found in all the inter­tropical seas, and sometimes travel into the temperate zones. The flesh and eggs of all the species are edible, though the Indian turtles are less valuable in this respect than those of the Atlantic. The most highly valued of the family is the green turtle (Chelone mydas), from which turtle soup is made. It attains a large size, sometimes from six to seven feet long, with a weight of 700 to 800 pounds. The popular name has no reference to the color of the carapace, which is dark olive, passing into dingy white, but to the green fat so highly prized by epicures. The edible turtle of the East Indies is also highly prized.