May 23 is World Turtle Day. Established by American Tortoise Rescue in 2000, World Turtle Day is aimed at bringing world's attention to turtles, and helping them survive and thrive. American Tortoise Rescue encourages people to dress up as turtles on World Turtle Day and to save turtles caught on highways.
In belated celebration of World Turtle Day at Freaking News, show how the world would be different if turtles ruled, merge turtles with other animals or people, including turtles in paintings, etc. We will allow any type of turtles, even the human-created ones from cartons and movies (like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
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This contest is fueled by the following news: Turtles appeared on earth about 200 million years ago, they descended from catylosaurs which were the most primitive reptiles. In the present world, there are about 230 known species. Turtles inhabit the seas, oceans and fresh water as well as land in all the warm regions of the world. Terrestrial tortoises are called Tortes and small marsh tortoises are called Terrapin.
It's quite amusing to see a giant terrestrial tortoise (Geochelone gigantea) and a tiny turtle Namaqualand (Homopus s. signatus) side by side. The Giant Tortoise was under extinction threat till recently. They, possessing a large size and good appetite, can even live without food for months under adverse conditions. Due to this feature, navigators are advised to catch and carry these 100 kg giants as a "living foodstuff". Currently, these turtles are conserved only in the Galapagos Islands and Albadra Island in the Indian Ocean, which was declared as a national reserve in 1981.
Namaqualand turtles inhabit the regions of South Africa. Since they spend most of the time hiding in rock crevices or sit on their ledges, they are often referred to as “rock turtles”. They have a somewhat flattened and elongated shell not exceeding 10 cm in length and very long legs, enabling them to comfortably climb the rocks.
The shape of the turtle's shell depends on their lifestyle. In terrestrial turtles, it is usually high and in freshwater turtles, the shell is more streamlined and smooth, the shell of marine turtles have a drop-like shape that facilitates movement in water. The only tortoise in the family of all leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) has a leatherback heart-shaped shell, divided by longitudinal crests: 7 - on the dorsal side and 5 on the abdominal. The length of their body reaches up to more than 2 m, the weight - 600 kg, the wingspan of the front flippers - about 3.5m. The natural habitat is very extensive: the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. These turtles feed on mollusks, crustaceans, fish and algae. They lay their eggs in summer on land and around 100-150 in number. Barely hatched young ones immediately rush towards the sea.
The Red-footed Turtle (Chelonoidis carbonaria) lives in the dense tropical forests of Colombia, Venezuela, Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. These tortoises reach a length of no more than 45-50 cm. In adults, the shell has some shrinkage horizontally, forming a distinctive "waist" line. Mating occurs after the rainy season at will. Females lay up to 15 round white eggs. The incubation period and hatching time is the most dangerous in the life of turtles as they are a favorite delicacy of mammals and birds.
The major part of life for aquatic turtles is spent in water, which is warm with sufficient vegetation. They come onto land only to bask in the sun and also to lay eggs. All aquatic turtles can climb well, so in order to receive air, they climb on rocks, stubs or snags. One of the striking representatives of turtles is Florida's red-bellied turtle (Chrysemys nelsoni). The length of these turtles, leading a vegetarian lifestyle, does not exceed 35 cm.
One of the largest modern terrestrial tortoises is the Galapagos turtle (Chelonoidis elephantopus). Their name implies their habitat. There are 12 subspecies known in total: the smallest, weighing 30-50 kg, inhabit the small archipelago islands, while bigger ones, weighing up to 200 kg with a shell of about 1.2 m in length, prefer to live on larger islands. These turtles are diurnal; they feed mostly on plants but do not shy away from carrion. During the breeding season, they are extremely aggressive - males mercilessly fight with each other using their shells and bite. After fertilization, females lay up to 22 eggs annually and as a rule, in their same favorite place.
Turtles eat by swallowing un-chewed, the visible movement is similar to chewing, but nothing else than a contraction of the oral muscles helps in the movement of food into the throat. Turtles are toothless animals, but their jaws are provided with sharp horny outgrowths with cutting edges, which allow the herbivorous species to bite chunks of hard plants and in case of carnivores - to catch and hold the prey. Turtles are not dangerous for humans, except, perhaps, the freshwater common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), inhabiting the northern and north-western parts of South America, south-eastern Canada and the Eastern United States. It, taken out from water and in defense, can cause very painful bites. The length of its body ranges from 20 to 50 cm, and the weight is about 15-20 kg.
The Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) has a fairly light shell and is found in tropical and subtropical seas. These turtles use their front leg flippers as fins and the hind legs serve as the rudder. The length of an adult turtle reaches up to 80-100 cm. The Hawksbill turtle eats shellfish and fish and a small amount of algae. Their meat contains toxic substances, inedible for humans, but the horny sheets of the shell serve as a trading item.
The Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) grows up to one and a half meters in length. Its weight reaches 200 kg. In the Atlantic Ocean, they can be found from the northern coasts of the United States to the shores of Argentina, from the coastal areas of Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands to South Africa. Obviously, the Gulf Stream brings them to the shores of Northern Europe. The famous turtle soup is made from these turtles.