tortoise

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tortoise

(tôr`təs), common name for a terrestrial turtleturtle,
a reptile of the order Chelonia, with strong, beaked, toothless jaws and, usually, an armorlike shell. The shell normally consists of bony plates overlaid with horny shields.
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, especially one of the family Testudinidae. Tortoises inhabit warm regions of all continents except Australia. They have club-shaped feet with reduced toes adapted for walking on land, and nearly all have high-domed shells. The limbs are covered with hard scales and when the limbs and head are withdrawn into the shell, the animal is completely closed off.

The most famous tortoises are the giant tortoises of islands in the Indian Ocean (Aldabrachelys gigantea) and of the Galápagos Islands (classified as either Chelonoidis nigra subspecies or Chelonoidis species). Galapagos tortoises may reach a length of over 4 ft (120 cm) and weigh over 500 lb (225 kg). There are about a dozen races of the Galapagos tortoise, most of them isolated on separate islands. These tortoises were a major source of meat for sailors in the 17th and 18th cent. and were often slaughtered wantonly. Once so abundant that the islands were named for them (galápago is Spanish for tortoise), they became extinct on some islands and were endangered on most of the others. The tortoises are now protected by law, and scientists from the Charles Darwin Research Station have bred some 2,000 and set free the different subspecies on the islands from which they came.

North American tortoises, genus Gopherus, are burrowing forms with flattened feet and heavy nails. Three of the four species are very similar. The desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, inhabits deserts from S Nevada to NW Mexico; the Texas tortoise, G. berlandieri, lives in arid brush country and open woods from S Texas to NE Mexico; the gopher tortoise, G. polyphemus, is found in high, sandy areas of Florida and the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts. The desert and gopher tortoises reach a length of 13 in. (33 cm), while the Texas tortoise is about 8 1-2 in. (21.6 cm) long. The Bolson, or Mexican giant, tortoise, G. flavomarginatus, is a large species of NW Mexico. It has been much used for food, and the survival of the species is threatened.

Tortoises are extremely long-lived; there are authenticated cases of individuals living over 150 years. They are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Chelonia, family Testudinidae.

tortoise

[′tȯrd·əs]
(vertebrate zoology)
Any of various large terrestrial reptiles in the order Chelonia, especially the family Testudinidae.

tortoise

symbol of sexual purity. [Animal Symbolism: Mercatante, 21]

tortoise

slow and steady, it wins the race against the hare. [Animal Symbolism: Mercatante, 22; Gk. Lit.: Aesop, “The Tortoise and the Hare”]

tortoise

perseverance helps him succeed where those inclined to dawdle fail. [Folklore: Jobes, 1590]

tortoise

1. any herbivorous terrestrial chelonian reptile of the family Testudinidae, of most warm regions, having a heavy dome-shaped shell and clawed limbs
2. water tortoise another name for terrapin
References in periodicals archive ?
Parks and Wildlife Service staff and scientists from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions will be releasing the young tortoises, ranging from two to four-years-old into Moore River Nature Reserve, north of Perth.
"Our tortoises are part of a European Breeding Programme, for which we work with other European zoos in a vow to support tortoise conservation in a regulated and ethical environment.
Based on specific intelligence that Indian star tortoises, a vulnerable species mentioned in Schedule IV to the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 were being transported illegally and are intended to be exported out of India, the officers of DRI, Vijayawada, launched an operation and intercepted the passenger travelling from Vijayawada to Ahmedabad in Navjeevan Express.
"Our tortoises are part of a European Breeding Programme, where we work with other European zoos to support conservation.
Since 2000, the American Tortoise Rescue marked 23rd May as the day to show love and raise awareness for protecting turtles and tortoises around the world.
A watchman from Ogongo village in Nyatike subcounty has taken to rearing chameleons, lizards and tortoises for consumption.
It is one of 15 known species of giant tortoises in the Galapagos, at least two of which have already vanished.
The preserve is a target area because it's inhabited by the northernmost population of gopher tortoises in the country.
Palmetto Bay, FL, April 30, 2018 --(PR.com)-- Miami, Florida based eCommerce company xyzReptiles has discounted their red footed tortoises for sale for a limited time.
Kolkata: A total of 241 rare and endangered tortoises have been seized by revenue intelligence officials from a hotel here, an official release said here on Saturday.
"People are devastated, because they come in just to see the tortoises. They get so attached to certain animals," said manager Dorothy Ellis But it's not just visitors who want to see Boris returned to Ouseburn.