Turtles have been on the earth for more than 200 million years.
They evolved before mammals, birds, crocodiles, snakes, and even lizards.
The earliest turtles had teeth and could not retract their heads, but other than this, modern turtles are very similar to their original ancestors.
Turtles live on every continent except Antarctica.
Turtles will live in almost any climate warm enough to allow them to complete their breeding cycle.
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.
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.
The shell of a turtle is made up of 60 different bones all connected together.
Most land tortoises have high, domed carapaces that offer protection from the snapping jaws of terrestrial predators.
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.
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.
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.
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 longevity.
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