From Academic Kids

Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Dipsochelys dussumieri) from Aldabra atoll in the Seychelles.
Aldabra Giant Tortoise
(Dipsochelys dussumieri)
from Aldabra atoll in the Seychelles.
Scientific classification


Tortoise is the name given to the land-dwelling reptiles most of whose body is shielded by a special shell. Turtles and terrapins are the aquatic species. All living tortoises are members of the order Testudines.

Tortoises have both an endoskeleton and an exoskeleton. All tortoises have a protective shell around their bodies. The top part of their case is called the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge.

The size of tortoises can vary from a few centimetres to up to two meters. Tortoises generally live a long time, some individuals being known to have lived longer than 150 years. Because of this, they symbolize longevity in some cultures, such as China. The oldest tortoise (or living animal) ever recorded is Tui Malila, of Tonga.

The giant tortoises of the Galᰡgos Islands helped Charles Darwin formulate his theory of evolution, since the isolated populations on the different islands, although descended from a common ancestor, had diverged to different forms. One of Darwin's tortoises, named Harriet, is believed to still be alive and living in an Australian zoo.

Most land tortoises are herbivorous in the wild.

The first turtles already existed in the era of the dinosaurs, some 300 million years ago. Turtles and tortoises are the only surviving branch of the even more ancient clade Anapsida, which includes groups such as the procolophonoids, millerettids and pareiasaurs. Most of the anapsids became extinct in the late Permian period, with the exception of the procolophonoids and the precursors of the testudines (turtles and tortoises).


Chinese mythology

The tortoise represents longevity as it lives in real life for a very long time. It is one of the four most prominent beasts of China and is of the water element. In Feng Shui the rear of the home is represented by the symbolic animal the Black Tortoise, signifying support for home, family life and personal relationships. If you don?t have a building or structure representing the Black Tortoise behind your home you can place a symbolic tortoise there for enhanced support to this aspect of life. A tortoise at the back door or in the backyard by a pond is said to attract good fortune and many blessings.

The three tortoise stack one on top of each other represents a mother and her babies. it's good for health, protection and support for relationships.

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Partial species list

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