Portal:Turtles

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Turtles

Loggerhead sea turtle

Turtles are reptiles characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield. The earliest known turtles date from 157 million years ago. Turtles are ectotherms—they vary their internal temperature according to the ambient environment (commonly known as cold-bloodedness). However, leatherback sea turtles have noticeably higher body temperature than surrounding water because of their high metabolic rate. Though turtles live in and around water, they breathe air and lay eggs on land.

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Turtles
Temporal range: Triassic–Recent
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Linnaeus, 1758

There are fourteen extant families of the order Testudines, an order of reptile commonly known as turtles, tortoises and terrapins. The testudines are some of the most ancient reptiles alive, with only the tuataras considered more primitive. There are approximately 300 extant species and 97 genera of testudines, split into two suborders: the Cryptodirans and the Pleurodirans. The distinction between these two suborders is based on the mode in which they cover their head and neck. The Pleurodirans, also called the side-necked turtles, have long necks, and fold them sideways to align them with the shell. The Pelomedusidae and Chelidae are the only extant families of pleurodires. The Cryptodirans pull their neck straight back to conceal their head within the shell. The Carettochelyidae, Cheloniidae, Chelydridae, Dermatemydidae, Dermochelyidae, Emydidae, Kinosternidae, Testudinidae and Trionychidae are all cryptodires, although the ability to retract the head has been lost in the sea turtles (Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae). A third order, the Paracryptodirans, are extinct.

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  • ...that one of only five extant Rafetus swinhoei softshelled turtles is thought by residents of Hanoi, Vietnam to be the magical Golden Turtle God named Kim Qui?

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Eastern box turtle.jpg
Credit: Matt Reinbold

An Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)

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