Ten things you never knew about... tur­tles

Daily Express - - Letters - WILLIAM HARTSTON

To­day is World Tur­tle Day, high­light­ing the threats to a num­ber of tur­tle species posed by fish­ing and other hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties.

Strictly speak­ing, all tor­toises are tur­tles, but not all tur­tles are tor­toises. Tor­toises are land-dwelling types of tur­tle.

There are 244 species of tur­tles in the world: seven sea tur­tle species, 180 fresh­wa­ter species, and the rest land dwellers.

In Bri­tain, ‘tur­tle’ is gen­er­ally used for salt­wa­ter species, ter­rapin for fresh­wa­ter va­ri­eties.

Tur­tles mate at four in the af­ter­noon and lay eggs at six. Tur­tles have no teeth.

In 1972 an ele­phant named Bimbo, was awarded $4,500 dam­ages in Cal­i­for­nia af­ter los­ing his in­ter­est in danc­ing and wa­ter-ski­ing fol­low­ing a road ac­ci­dent. The case was heard by Judge Tur­tle.

The Greek trage­dian Aeschy­lus is said to have been killed by an ea­gle drop­ping a tor­toise on his head.

In 1997, Aus­tralian sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered that the Fitzroy River tor­toise breathes through its mouth on land and through its bot­tom when un­der wa­ter.

The word ‘ter­rapin’ comes from an Al­go­nquin In­dian name mean­ing an ed­i­ble tur­tle.

A tor­toise brought by Charles Dar­win from the Gala­pa­gos died in Aus­tralia last year aged 176.

Tur­tles have ex­isted for 200 mil­lion years.

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