A SMALLEST TURTLE FAMILY
Three taxonomic families of turtle each contain only a single living species. They are: Carettochelyidae, which contains the pig-nosed or Fly River turtle (Carettochelys insculpta, above); Dermatemydidae, containing the hickatee or Central American river turtle (Dermatemys mawii); and Dermochelyidae, which contains the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea).
The first recorded
QDecimen of Archelon
Formally described and named in 2008, Odontochelys semitestacea existed around 220 million years ago during the late Triassic period, in what is now south-western China. Unlike modern-day turtles it had teeth, and instead of a dorsal (upper) shell or carapace it sported neural plates and broadened ribs.
Proganochelys first appeared on Earth around 210 million years ago, during the late Triassic period, just after the evolution of dinosaurs and mammals. It possessed a complete shell, with both a dorsal carapace and a ventral plastron (lower shell). An omnivore with no teeth, it measured about 60 cm (2 ft) in length.
Initially unearthed during the 1940s at Villa de Leyva in Colombia, fossils of the 2-m-long (6-ft 6-in) species Desmatochelys padillai date from the early Cretaceous period, more than 120 million years ago.
The first-known remains of Carbonemys cofrinii were discovered in a coal mine in Colombia in 2005, but the species was not officially named and described until 2012. It lived 60 million years ago during the Palaeocene epoch. C. cofrinii’s shell was 1.72 m (5 ft 7.7 in) long, its skull was the size of an American football and its total length was nearly 2.5 m (8 ft 2.4 in) – slightly smaller than a Smart car.
Longest dive by a marine vertebrate
In Feb 2003, an adult female loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) dived for 10 hr 14 min in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tunisia. The marathon underwater swim was recorded by researchers led by Dr Annette Broderick of the University of Exeter, UK. Loggerhead turtles are able to slow down their internal systems, reducing the need for oxygen and enabling them to survive underwater for hours on one breath.
Q: How old was Tu’i Malila, the oldest recorded chelonian, when he died in 1965?
From 2006, satellites tracked a tagged leatherback turtle (D. coriacea) for two years as it made a 20,558-km (12,774-mi) journey from its nesting site on the beaches of Papua, Indonesia, to feeding grounds off the coast of the US state of Oregon. The journey took the intrepid turtle 647 days to complete.
The leatherback is also the fastest chelonian in water, with a speed of up to 35 km/h (22 mph) recorded for one specimen.
Every February, turtles emerge from the sea after dark to the same 10-km (6.2-mi) stretch of beach at Gahirmatha in Odisha, eastern India. There, they lay more than 50 million eggs in the sand, and are back in the sea by dawn. In 1991, approximately 610,000 specimens of olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) were counted nesting on the beach.
Once native to the Yangtze River and across China, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is currently only represented by three living specimens. A fourth died in Jan 2016 (see right). One of the surviving turtles inhabits a lake in northern Vietnam, where it was discovered in 2008; the other two, a male and female, are in captivity in China’s Suzhou Zoo. Efforts to breed young turtles have so far failed. Not surprisingly, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle is categorized as “Critically Endangered” by the lUCN.
Rarest sea turtle
Numbers of Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (L. kempii) have suffered owing to pollution, habitat loss and entanglement in shrimp nets. They are also a popular food in Mexico. A 2014 estimate of nest numbers placed them at 118, but during that year 10,594 hatchlings were released by wildlife officials along the coast of the US state of Texas. The sea turtle occurs in the Gulf of Mexico and warmer stretches of the Atlantic Ocean, but has been spotted as far north as New Jersey, USA. It is categorized as “Critically Endangered” by the lUCN.
It has been estimated that only one newly hatched sea turtle in every thousand survives to adulthood
A group of turtles Is variously known as a nest, a bale, a dole or a turn
< LARGEST SEA TURTLE EVER
Archelon ischyros lived around 70-80 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period,
[ and occupied the seas around what is now North America. The largest specimen on record measured more than 4 m (13 ft 1.4 in) long and 4.9 m (16 ft 0.9 in] wide from flipper to flipper. It is estimated to have weighed more than 2,200 kg (4,850 lb) – about the same as a rhinoceros. Instead of a solid shell, Archelon had a leathery or bony carapace supported by a skeletal framework.
Mock turtle soup is a turtle-free dish dating backto18th-century England. It inspired the character of the Mock Turtle in Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland(1865).
A LAZIEST FRESHWATER TURTLE
Found in large lowland rivers such as the Mekong in Cambodia, Cantor’s giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) spends 95% of its life motionless, buried in sand on the river bottom waiting for prey such as fish and molluscs to approach. Twice a day, it comes up to the surface of the water to breathe. Its primarily passive existence is a contrast to the far more active loggerhead turtle (see left), although both species spend long periods underwater.
A SMALLEST SEATURTLE
Native to the Gulf of Mexico and warm stretches of the Atlantic Ocean, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) exhibits a maximum carapace length of 75 cm (29.5 in) and a weight of 50 kg (110 lb). Its carapace width is almost the same as its length, giving it a circular appearance. The olive or Pacific ridley turtle (L. olivacea), found in the Pacific and Indian oceans, is slightly heavier than its close relation.