Turtles are water-dwelling reptiles with a characteristic cartilaginous or bony shell which acts as an armor. They are one of the most ancient among reptiles, dating further back than even crocodiles. There are 327 extant species of turtles scattered all over the world.
Diet, Reproduction, and Adaptation
Turtles eat aquatic vegetation, worms, insects, snails and even scavenge on dead marine creatures on occasions. They reproduce by laying eggs (oviparous), and for some species of turtles, the temperature at which the egg is kept determines the gender of the offspring. The female lays the eggs in sand or mud and covers them up, leaving them to incubate by themselves. The dorsal side of the turtle’s shell is called the carapace while the shell covering the belly is called the plastron. This shell acts as a strong armor against predators, as the turtle can tuck itself into its shell when it senses danger.
Turtles have not changed much since their appearance on earth about 200 million years back. This probably plays a huge role in why all the still-living species are highly endangered, with some being at the brink of extinction.