Explore Your World

Explore Your World
Explore Your World

All about Turtles and Tortoises

Tortoises are a family of land-dwelling reptiles in the order Testudines. Like other turtles, tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. The tortoise endoskeleton has the adaptation of having an external shell fused to the rib cage. Tortoises can vary in size from a few centimeters to two meters. They are usually diurnal animals with tendencies to be crepuscular depending on the ambient temperatures. They are generally reclusive animals.

Giant tortoises move very slowly on dry land, at only 0.17 mph (0.27 km/h). The fastest recorded tortoise speed 5 mph. Turtles breathe without a diaphragm and just like us, they have favorite colors!

 The African helmeted turtle smells so bad it has been compared to skunks.

How Do Butterflies Get Their Colors?

There are two types of color in a butterfly’s wings: ordinary (pigmented) and structural. The whites, oranges and yellows come from urea, a waste product, while the browns and some yellows come from melanin, which is the same substance in human skin which causes one to get freckles or tan. The butterfly’s body produces the chemicals necessary to create the blacks and reds as well.

The rest of the coloring comes from miniature scales that hang on the butterfly’s wing, in a manner which is a bit like shingles on a roof. These tiny scales produce what are called “structural colors”, which are produced the same way a prism produces color when it catches the light a certain way. Light passes through this tiny scale and is reflected multiple times, giving the butterflies wings iridescence.

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