tortoise


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, 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 The limbs are covered with hard scales and when the limbs and head are withdrawn into the shell, the animal is completely closed off.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 ?
Manouria emys phayrei: success at keeping and breeding the little-known Burmese brown tortoise. Reptilia 29:43-50.
"Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, the Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Team and key supporters such as the Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise, we will soon see the 800th Western Swamp Tortoise released into the wild.
Investment management company Tortoise Capital Advisors announced on Thursday the latest quarterly distributions for Tortoise Energy Infrastructure Corp (NYSE:TYG), Tortoise Midstream Energy Fund Inc (NYSE:NTG), Tortoise Pipeline & Energy Fund Inc (NYSE:TTP) and Tortoise Energy Independence Fund Inc (NYSE:NDP) and monthly distributions for Tortoise Power and Energy Infrastructure Fund Inc (NYSE:TPZ) and Tortoise Essential Assets Income Term Fund (NYSE:TEAF).
Global Banking News-August 9, 2019-Six Tortoise funds declare monthly and quarterly distributions
but keepers were quick to celebrate a small victory with the birth of a critically endangered tortoise - the size of a 50p piece.
HJust hatched Hartley is a critically endangered pancake tortoise.
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.
When the Star visited Odembo on Wednesday, he was preparing a tortoise for lunch.
Boasting star-shaped markings on their shells in yellow and black, the radiated tortoise is considered one of the world's most beautiful tortoises and can grow up to half a metre in length.
CONSERVATIONISTS in the Galapagos Islands have found a giant tortoise from a species thought to have become extinct more than a century ago.
Tortoise has announced the launch of two digital infrastructure ETFs, Tortoise Cloud Infrastructure Fund (Cboe BZX: TCLD) and Tortoise Digital Payments Infrastructure Fund (Cboe BZX: TPAY), the company said.
Tortoise, a Kansas-based investment company, has announced it has acquired UK-based investment management firm Ecofin Ltd., specialising in infrastructure, sustainability and energy transition investing, the company said.