|Turtles and Tortoises
Types of Tortoise
Types of Turtles
Turtle Clip Art
Habitat preferences often differentiated the world's turtle population.
Tortoises, the dry land species, join turtles associated with fresh water environments and sea turtles associated with salt water environments.
Most people associate turtles with the largest family, the freshwater turtles containing many familiar North American species such as diamondacks, pond turtles and sliders.
At the other end of the durtle family diversity scale, two families Carettochelyidae (pignose turtles) and Dermochelyidae (leatherback turtle) each consist of a single species.
The Pig-nosed turtle, pictured above, resides in the rivers of New Guinea and Northern Australia. The picture highlights its flippers, a unique physical trait.
Turtle populations continue to decline in many areas due to habitat destruction and overfishing.
Vietnamese Leaf Turtles (Geoemyda spengleri), an endangered species, inhabit the mountain areas bordering Vietnam and China.
Extended necks define the group of turtles called Side-necked turtles,(Pleurodira).
Two families, Chelidae (approximately 54 species found in Australia, New Guneia and South America) and Pelomedusidae (a group of approximately 19 species found in Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar) are formally recognized.
Neck length varies from species to species, with some species having necks so long they get the nickname snake-necked turtles.
All the known species inhabit fresh water rivers and ponds.
The Painted Terrapin (Callagur borneoensis), the sole member of the Callagur genus, inhabits coastal estuaries around Southeast Asia.
Coastal development in their range contributed to their IUCN critically endangered listing since 1996.
No discussion of tortoises would be complete without mention of the Galapagos Tortoise (Geochelone nigra).
The largest of the eleven different subspecies can grow a shell that extends to five feet, covering a body that can exceed five hundred pounds, making them the largest tortoise species in the world.
Found only in the Galapagos Archipelago, off the coast of western South America, the area's isolation and limited number of predators created the perfect environment for the evolution of a super-sized tortoise species.
The multi-island setting also created an environment for the evolution of different looking subspecies, whose shells adapted to the local environmental conditions. Most of the shells are described as either domed or shell shaped.
Physical evolution differences did not translate into dietary evolutionary differences. All Geochelone subspecies are herbivores that consume local plant life.
Recent news that the only remaining Geochelone abigdoni subspecies, better known as Lonesome George, successfully mated with a female of a different subspecies. Keepers at George's residence in the Galapagos National Park await the potential hatchlings with bated breath.
The Aldabra Tortoise (Geochelone gigantia), one of largest and most long lived animals in the world, inhabit a small Aladabra Atol, part of the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean.
The links in the box on the right point to articles that provide pictures and descriptions of a representative sample of turtle species in seven of the eleven Testudines families.
© 2009-2012 Patricia A. Michaels