Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Dipsochelys dussumieri) from Aldabra atoll in the Seychelles.
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The tortoise is a land-dwelling reptile which is of the order Testudines. As with its aquatic cousins, the turtle and the terrapin, the tortoise is shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is called the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. more...


The tortoise has both an endoskeleton and an exoskeleton.

Tortoises can vary in size from a few centimetres to up to two meters. Tortoises generally have a lifespan comparable with that of human beings and parakeets, and some individuals are known to have lived longer than 150 years. Because of this, they symbolize longevity in some cultures, such as China. The oldest tortoise ever recorded, indeed the oldest individual animal ever recorded, was Tui Malila, of Tonga.

The giant tortoises of the Galápagos Islands helped Charles Darwin formulate his theory of evolution, since the isolated populations on the different islands, although descended from a common ancestor, had diverged to different forms. One of Darwin's tortoises, named Harriet, is believed to still be alive and living in an Australian zoo. Harriet was 175 years old as of November, 2005, and was recognized at that time as the world's oldest living animal.

Most land tortoises are herbivorous in the wild.

The first turtles already existed in the era of the dinosaurs, some 300 million years ago. Turtles and tortoises are the only surviving branch of the even more ancient clade Anapsida, which includes groups such as the procolophonoids, millerettids and pareiasaurs. Most of the anapsids became extinct in the late Permian period, with the exception of the procolophonoids and the precursors of the testudines (turtles and tortoises).

Partial species list

  • Genus Chersina
    • Bowsprit Tortoise, Chersina angulata
  • Genus Dipsochelys
    • Dipsochelys abrupta Extinct
    • Arnold's Giant Tortoise, Dipsochelys arnoldi Extinct in the wild
    • Dipsochelys daudinii Extinct
    • Aldabra Giant Tortoise, Dipsochelys dussumieri Conservation status: Vulnerable
    • Dipsochelys grandidieri Extinct
    • Seychelles Giant Tortoise, Dipsochelys hololissa Extinct in the wild
  • Genus Furculachelys
    • Tunisian Spur-thigh Tortoise, Furculachelys nabeulensis
  • Genus Geochelone
    • Red-Footed Tortoise, Geochelone carbonaria
    • Chaco Tortoise, Geochelone chilensis Conservation status: Vulnerable
    • Yellow-Footed Tortoise, Geochelone denticulata Conservation status: Vulnerable
    • Indian Star Tortoise, Geochelone elegans
    • Gal├ípagos Giant Tortoise, Geochelone nigra Conservation status: Vulnerable
    • Leopard Tortoise, Geochelone pardalis
    • Burmese Star Tortoise, Geochelone platynota Conservation status: Critical
    • Radiated Tortoise, Geochelone radiata Conservation status: Vulnerable
    • African Spurred Tortoise (Sulcata Tortoise), Geochelone sulcata
    • Angulated Tortoise, Geochelone yniphora Conservation status: Endangered
  • Genus Gopherus
    • Desert Tortoise, Gopherus agassizii Vulnerable
    • Texas Tortoise, Gopherus berlandieri
    • Bolson Tortoise, Gopherus flavomarginatus Vulnerable
    • Gopher Tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus Vulnerable
  • Genus Homopus
    • Parrot-Beaked Cape Tortoise, Homopus aerolatus
    • Boulenger's Cape Tortoise, Homopus boulengeri
    • Karroo Cape Tortoise, Homopus femoralis
    • Speckled Cape Tortoise, Homopus signatus Conservation status: Lower risk
    • Berger's Cape Tortoise, Homopus bergeri Vulnerable
  • Genus Indotestudo
    • Elongated Tortoise, Indotestudo elongata Conservation status: Endangered
    • Travancore Tortoise, Indotestudo forsteni Conservation status: Endangered
  • Genus Kimixys
    • Bell's Hinge-Backed Tortoise, Kinixys belliana
    • Serrated Hinge-Backed Tortoise, Kinixys erosa Conservation status: Data deficient
    • Home's Hinge-Backed Tortoise, Kinixys homeana Conservation status: Data deficient
    • Natal Hinge-Backed Tortoise, Kinixys natalensis Conservation status: Lower risk
    • Kinixys spekii
  • Genus Malacochersus
    • Pancake Tortoise, Malacochersus tornieri Vulnerable
  • Genus Manouria
    • Brown Tortoise / Mountain Tortoise, Manouria emys Conservation status: Endangered
    • Impressed Tortoise, Manouria impressa Vulnerable
  • Genus Psammobates
    • Geometric Tortoise, Psammobates geometricus Conservation status: Endangered
    • Serrated Star Tortoise, Psammobates oculiferus
    • African Tent Tortoise, Psammobates tentorius
  • Genus Pyxis
    • Madagascan Spider Tortoise, Pyxis arachnoides Vulnerable
    • Madagascan Flat-Tailed Tortoise, Pyxis planicauda Endangered
  • Genus Testudo
    • Greek Tortoise, Spur-Thighed Tortoise, Testudo graeca Vulnerable
    • Herman's Tortoise, Testudo hermanni Conservation status: Lower risk
    • Russian Tortoise, Horsfield's Tortoise, Testudo horsfieldii Vulnerable
    • Egyptian Tortoise, Testudo kleinmanni Conservation status: Critical
    • Negev Tortoise, Testudo werneri Conservation status: Critical
    • Marginated Tortoise, Testudo marginata
    • Jabuti, Testudo tabulata


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