Turtles are among the most ancient creatures on the planet. The bony membrane has developed a long time ago as a defense against predators.
The largest representatives today have a shell length of more than two meters and weigh more than six hundred kilograms. Today science knows more than two hundred species, and some of them are really unusual and require more detailed acquaintance.
Spiny turtle. This rare species is found in Southeast Asia, from Burma to the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. The turtle prefers damp and wetlands. The marginal shields of the shell of such a creature protrude laterally, forming sharp spines and a rather unusual appearance. The thorns not only help to defend against the attacks of predators, but also act as part of the protective camouflage, resembling fallen leaves. The brown color of the shell also adds similarities with them. Such a turtle, unlike most of its relatives, is quite difficult to pick up. But people still hunt for this species, as a result of which its number has significantly decreased recently. In young individuals, the spines are sharper along the edges, and with age, these spines become more rounded. In addition, as they grow older, turtles prefer to move from land to water. The spiny turtle eats quite a variety of foods - berries, fruits, earthworms and pieces of meat.
Soft-shelled Chinese turtle. The strangeness of this unusual turtle is not only in its soft shell. Not so long ago, scientists discovered that this creature also urinates through its own mouth. The turtle's behavior has long surprised biologists. Why does she, breathing with her lungs, so often hide her head under water. Scientists analyzed the behavior of the reptile, and it turned out that only 6% of urine is excreted through the cloaca. The specially developed organization of the mouth allows you to urinate through this organ. This strange feature allows the turtle to survive in salt water. Soft-shelled turtles are found not only in China, but also in many countries of East Asia, living in swamps and streams. In the region, such a reptile is considered a delicacy. In general, there are more than one and a half thousand farms in China that annually raise 90 million of these turtles. Due to the high demand in cooking, the species is under threat of destruction. And soft-shelled turtles are being bred in Malaysia, Hawaii and even California. Scientists have found that the villi on the shells of these turtles are somewhat reminiscent of fish gills and can influence oxygen filtration in some way. Although these turtles breathe lightly, they somehow manage to submerge under water for up to one hundred minutes. How they do it is a mystery.
Turtle of the Mary River. This rare species lives exclusively in the Mary River in the Australian state of Queensland. Adult turtles have elongated and streamlined shells, and the color varies from pink and red to brown and even black. Compared to the body, the head is small and the tail is long. It can reach two-thirds of the shell, which is a record for all turtles. There are long tendril-like outgrowths under the chin. Sexual maturity in this species occurs after 25 years for females and 30 years for males, which is quite a lot. Large hind legs allow the turtle to be an excellent swimmer. The Mary River Turtle can breathe with the help of a cloaca underwater, however they often rise to the surface to swallow a portion of oxygen in the usual way. Prolonged exposure to water causes algae to grow directly on the turtle's body. This is convenient, if only for reasons of disguise. As a result, the turtles look like real punks with their bright hairstyles.
Spiny soft-bodied turtle. This species can be found in southern Canada, in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and in northern Mexico. This creature has a unique appearance. The turtle's head is triangular, and the flat, round shell is covered with black spots. However, they disappear with age. The turtle has a long and slender nose, and there are lumpy nubs on the front of the shell. The soft shell is studded with small spines and tubercles. The species lives in water bodies, the main food is insects and rarely fish. Sexual maturity occurs by 8-10 years, and such turtles live up to 50 years. In aquariums, they need a lot of rocks and islets where they can bask. Sand is poured on the bottom so that the turtle can completely bury itself there. Interestingly, this species is very aggressive and can even bite. Often, when living together, turtles injure each other.
Eastern long-necked turtle. In the lakes of Australia and in the southeastern United States, an unusual long-necked turtle is found. The neck is so long that the turtle hides its head, simply bending it under the shell, and not leading it inward. This species is very reminiscent of a snake, even the way of hunting is unusual. The turtle overtakes its prey simply by quickly straightening its neck. When a creature is in danger, it can secrete a fetid fluid from its glands. This secretion can spread up to a meter away, causing any attacker to flee. These turtles spend most of their lives on the ground. The color of the carapace varies from olive to brown, with a pattern of greenish lines. With age, carapace becomes smooth, dark and round. The average length of these turtles is 10-15 centimeters. The creatures are very shy, but they can also bite the offender. They are capricious in terms of nutrition, which rarely fall into the hands of amateurs.
Gnarled humpback turtle. This small turtle lives in the fresh waters of Mississippi and Alabama. Its most important feature is several spines on top of the shell, which become less pronounced in older individuals. There are also beautiful patterns underneath, in light gray or blue. The head of the turtles is small, the diameter of the carapace reaches an average of 15 centimeters. And this species feeds mainly on insects that can be caught on the surface of the river. Big-headed turtle. These creatures live in Southeast Asia in clear, fast and rocky streams. The main feature of the species, as the name implies, is a huge head. The shell is smooth and flat, brown in color. Unlike most turtles, this species cannot draw its head into a protective shelter, so a bony helmet protects the exposed part of the body. Powerful jaws serve the turtle as additional protection against threats. Due to its essentially "beak", claws and muscular tail, this turtle can even climb the inclined tree trunks. During the day, these creatures hide under stones, and in the evening they go hunting. The main food is small fish, worms, molluscs and other invertebrates. Due to the extermination by people, the species has become very rare.
Pig-nosed turtle. This species is native to New Guinea and Australia. It is the only freshwater turtle with flipper-like legs, like in marine species. Most unusual, however, is the creature's nose, which resembles a pig's stigma. Such an organ can act as a tube, allowing you to breathe without rising out of the water. Also, the nose is very sensitive to fluctuations in water, allowing prey to be found in turbid conditions. Turtles prefer shallow bodies of water. Their weight reaches 20 kilograms, and the length of the shell is up to 60 centimeters. These turtles live up to 50-100 years. Over the past half century, the population of the pig-nosed turtle has decreased by half due to the extermination of smugglers. Such creatures were often captured simply as exotic exhibits. And in New Guinea, turtles are also eaten, which also affected the population. But this is the last representative of an ancient family that lived on Earth 40 million years ago. It's a good thing that Australia and Indonesia have recently taken measures to protect such an amazing species.
Short-necked red-bellied turtle. These water turtles are also found in Australia and Papua New Guinea in rivers, lakes and lagoons. The carapace has an orange color along the edges, and the same beautiful bright color is present on the bottom. In young individuals, it is more pronounced. These turtles spend almost their entire life in the water, returning only to warm up. The length of the carapace reaches a quarter of a meter. The main food is animal. These can be fish, insects, invertebrates.
African helmet turtle. This species is typical for Africa, spreading from Ghana to South Africa, and hitting Madagascar and even the Arabian Peninsula. The species got its name due to the flat and large head covered with shields. In case of danger, the head and paws will be drawn into the shell, and the gap is closed with a movable flap. Dwelling in freshwater reservoirs, the turtle often comes to land. During periods of drought and when lakes dry up, it can even bury itself in silt. The turtle is famous for having glands on each of its limbs that can give off a strong odor. It has a depressing effect on people and horses. A small turtle (up to 30 centimeters) feeds mainly on frogs, tadpoles and invertebrates. Sometimes the creatures unite in flocks and hunt for big game - snakes, birds, and other turtles. It is the only known species that can hunt in packs. Interesting is the behavior of the female, which urinates beforehand on the chosen place when applying eggs. This helps soften the surface and makes digging easier.
Indian lobed turtle. The fact that the turtle is hiding in its shell does not surprise anyone. But this species has reached perfection in this matter. In case of danger, the retracted hind legs are protected by skin valves, the front edges of the plastron and carapace also close. Thus, the skin hides all the limbs, it is not clear, however, how this protects from predators. The turtle feeds mainly on frogs, not disdaining newborn mice, fish and tadpoles. The lobed turtle is found in India, Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka. Local residents are happy to eat this reptile.