Donnerstag, 14. November 2013

The tortoise

Hi and welcome to my 60th entry (not counting “picture of the day” entries). This time I want to introduce you to some of the exotic stuff: a skull and a shell of a tortoise. Well, it’s exotic to me because in Switzerland you won’t find turtles or tortoises on every corner. There is only one place where you can find turtles, but that kind of turtle is so rare that you barely will ever see it.
Please read more under the cut.

First of all, the skull and shell don’t belong together, they are from two different animals. Also they weren’t wild tortoises, they were pets and I got both pieces from my trusted taxidermist. Let’s have a closer look on the skull.

It’s a bit damaged. I think this happened while the taxidermist was dissecting the skull. It’s very filigree, about 4cm long. The beak of the tortoise is well preserved, that’s cool. I won’t get a finger in that mouth, it looks like the tortoise had a strong bite.

I think this tortoise was bigger than the tortoise I‘ve got the shell from.
I always wanted a turtle or tortoise shell and now I finally got one! It’s a small one, but cute. The spine and the back of the shell are always fused together. I tried to make a picture of the inside of the shell, but I think I failed.

The shell of every turtle/tortoise is made of bone. Over that bone shell is a layer of skin. The skin of water turtles is leathery and the skin of tortoise is made of horn/keratin. The pattern of each shell is unique like a fingerprint and helps to protect and conceal the animal.

Carapax – That’s the name of the back.
Plastron- That’s the name of the belly. The space between carapax and plastron is called “bridge” in German.
I’m not sure, but I think this tortoise was a female, because a lot of males have a dished-end plastron (for an easier mating).
Like sharks turtles and tortoise have been existing for a long time on our planet. They found fossils of these animals which are about 220 million years old! During this time they inhabit almost every area in the world.

I once saw a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) while snorkelling on the shores of Zakynthos (an island of Greece). That was fantastic and I hope it wasn’t my last sighting of such a great animal!

Picture from Wikipedia.

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