Visual Encyclopedia

Turtle

Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines (or Chelonii) characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs and acting as a shield. "Turtle" may refer to the order as a whole (American English) or to fresh-water and sea-dwelling testudines (British English). The order Testudines includes both extant (living) and extinct species. The earliest known members of this group date from , making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than snakes or crocodilians. Of the 356 known species alive today, some are highly endangered.

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