Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs and acting as a shield. “Turtle” may refer to the order as a whole or to fresh-water and sea-dwelling testudines. The order Testudines includes both extant and extinct species. The earliest known members of this group date from the Middle Jurassic, making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than snakes or crocodilians. Of the 356 known species alive today, some are highly endangered.
Turtles are amazing, period.
Just to watch them move awkwardly and slow, popping up their cute wrinkled head out of their massive shells, and suddenly pulling it back in again. That in itself makes me smile every time I see it, and that is a fact.
However, here are a few more amazing turtle facts that will surely leave you wondering…
1) Turtles are Prehistoric.
The first turtle evolved even before the lizards and crocs, more than 200 million years ago. That’s old. Extremely old. Interesting facts to notice: Back then they couldn’t pull-back their heads, but they did have teeth.
2) Turtles Are Found All Over, Almost.
In a similar fashion to Snakes, also Turtles can be found all over the world, on each and every continent, except for the coldest and driest continent of all — Antarctica.
3) Turtles Have Great Senses.
Despite their old wrinkled looks, and being prehistoric, surprisingly turtles have excellent eyesight, a superb sense of smell, and they can even hear good!
4) The Turtle Shell is Not Bulletproof.
We tend to think that the powerful robust shell of the Turtle is some kind of bulletproof tank, and that as long as the turtle pulls his head back in – then he’s completely protected inside. That nothing can happen. Well, the facts tell us differently. The turtle shell has nerves and blood supply, and is actually made of up to 60 different bones that are connected together, so any injury to the shell structure—might make the turtle bleed and suffer from pain.
5) There Are Terrifying Turtles.
Are there really such things? It seems unthinkable, and most people I talk to have the one and only image in their minds, of the old funny-looking-Grandpa-like Turtle, slow, cautious and smiling. However, a Terrifying Turtle that is considered dangerous—does exist. It’s ‘The Alligator Snapping Turtle”, regarded as the heaviest freshwater turtle in the world, with a heavy head and a long thick shell, it resembles a dinosaur. This scary turtle lures fish using his tongue, right into his mouth, asit then devours them with tremendous speed and force. It will eat almost anything it can catch.
Still, these turtles must be handled with extreme care and considered potentially dangerous.
6) Turtles Hardly Survive.
This is definitely one of the unfortunate turtle facts on our list. Taking into account their amazing track-record of survival over more than 200 million years, it’s quite surprising that only one out of 1,000 sea turtles survive after hatching. Most are eaten in their very early stages. However, if a baby male sea turtle does make it from the land, where it just hatched, to the sea, it will most probably never step on land again.
7) Turtle’s Life Depends on Temperature.
One of the interesting Sea Turtle facts is, that during incubation the turtle’s sex is determined by Temperature. If it’s above 29 degrees – then the baby will be a female turtle. If it’s below 29 degrees – then it will be a male. If the temperature rises above 33 degrees – then the turtle will not survive at all.
8) Turtles Are Immortal, Almost.
Some turtle species have the amazing ability to surpass a hundred years of age, easily. There is one Seychelles Giant Tortoise by the name of Jonathan, that lives on the Island of Saint Helena I in the South Atlantic Ocean. He was born in 1832 and is still alive. This makes him 182 years of age. Don’t believe me? Want the original facts? Read this BBC article about Jonathan the Tortoise.
9) Can Turtles Boost Fertility?
In ancient mythology, some cultures admired the turtle for its longevity, while others, like the Egyptians, regarded it as the enemy of the Sun God, and as the one who brings draught. The Tortoise on the other hand was portrayed as the one supporting the entire planet at its creation. Some ancient cultures believed the Tortoise had oracle powers and was associated with immortality, while others believed it was a symbol of fertility.
“if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”
“Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.”
- “And the turtles, of course, all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.” —Dr. Seuss
- “If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is he homeless or naked?” —George Carlin
- “Like an alligator, he can fully digest a turtle shell.” —Bill Brasky