tortoise


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

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.
..... Click the link for more information.
, 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 The limbs are covered with hard scales and when the limbs and head are withdrawn into the shell, the animal is completely closed off.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.
..... Click the link for more information.
, 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 ?
The department took 154 tortoises into its possession, which included 129 fresh water, nine sea and 13 land tortoises.
As part of the transaction, ongoing management and employees are expected to increase their ownership of Tortoise.
Bono joined Tortoise in 2005 and serves as the Chief Compliance Officer.
One of the researchers on the project, Yale University's Joshua Miller, told International Business Times the plan is to put the tortoises, which are hybrids of the Floreana tortoise and other existing species, into corrals with one another and encourage them to mate.
USA], August 6 ( ANI ): US researchers have revealed that roadside fencing, which is meant to help desert tortoise, can actually overheat them leading to their death.
For years the tortoise and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms in California had coexisted peacefully.
He now lives in our kitchen in a specially constructed tortoise table.
Fatouosh playing with kids Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/XPRESS Fatouosh bullying a smaller tortoise Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/XPRESS Fatouosh with Toni Metcalfe at her home in Al Reef Villas Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/XPRESS
Post close, key employees and firm management will collectively own approximately 37%, with the remainder owned by Tortoise Investments.
The presence of the tortoise on the installation has created some unique challenges and opportunities for the Combat Center, as it strives to fulfill its mission, while supporting the species' recovery.
Although there are data demonstrating damage and destruction of desert tortoise burrows caused by domestic ungulates (Nicholson and Humphreys 1981; Avery and Neibergs 1997), it is previously undocumented if native sheep like Nelson's big horn sheep are capable of similar impacts to tortoise burrows.
The tortoise had to be content with the lower half with the big ugly roots.