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Do turtles have teeth. Do only some types have teeth? If so, do the teeth fall out like ours?
Question Date: 2001-10-15
Answer 1:

That's a neat question. I have raised turtles, and I have never thought about that. I'm impressed. I did a little research, and I found some answers to your questions. However, these answers have led to other questions that maybe your class can answer...

First, what is a Turtle? They are vertebrates (which means they have a backbone). They are also reptiles (related to snakes, lizards, and crocodilians. Remember, these ways of classifying animals is somewhat artificial, a technique used by scientists to help "lump" similar animals together. Try not to get too caught up in it.

Ok, back to the question. Turtles do not have teeth. Instead, they have horny beaks, much like birds. Carnivorous turtles have a sharp hooked beak they can use to kill their prey. Vegetarian turtles have broad, flat beaks for crushing and mashing plants.

Now remember from the first paragraph that scientists have classified turtles as members of the class Reptilia. So why is it that turtles have beaks like birds, and not teeth like alligators? Furthermore, it seems that many extinct turtles (such as millerettids, Acleistorhinus, lanthanosuchids, nycteroletorids, and the first procolophonoids) had pretty impressive teeth. Why don't the turtles today have these teeth? I don't know, but maybe your class can come up with some ideas.

Answer 2:

While some prehistoric turtles had teeth, no modern turtles possess real teeth. Instead, all of the turtles alive today have very sharp beaks which the use to bite with. Hatchlings emerge from their eggs using what is commonly known as the egg-tooth or caruncle. This is located at the front of the upper jaw and typically it disappears a few months after the turtle hatches. It is a modified scale and not a real tooth.

Some other turtle facts: In common usage in the United States, the word turtle is an inclusive word that refers to all species of water turtle, sea turtle, box turtle, terrapin and tortoise. The word tortoise refers to a particular type of turtle that is well adapted to life on land.

Scientists group all turtles together in the "order" known as TESTUDINES. This order includes about a dozen living "families" of turtle. Tortoises are a specialized subgroup of the order TESTUDINES that are known as the Testudinidae.

According to Dr. Kristin Berry, the following distinction is made between the terms turtle and tortoise in the US: A tortoise is a land dwelling turtle with high domed shell and columnar, elephant-shaped hind legs. Tortoises go to water only to drink or bathe.

In contrast, the word turtle is used for other turtles: pond turtles, river turtles, box turtles, musk turtles, sea turtles, etc. >So, tortoises form a subgroup that can be distinguished from other groups of turtle but they are "turtles" nonetheless.

What do you call a group of turtles? Although people who keep pet turtles tend to use the collective term "herd" to refer to a group of turtles, the classic collective term is a "bale of turtles."

The famed giant tortoises that inhabit islands in the Galapagos Archipelago and Indian Ocean are the largest of the living land turtles. A male Galapagos tortoise, Geochelone nigra, from Isla Santa Cruz that has been captive-raised at the Life Fellowship Bird Sanctuary in Florida may well be the largest tortoise known. He weighed 356 kilograms (785 pounds) in 1988 and by 1996 was close to a stunning 400 kilograms (882 pounds). An Aldabra tortoise, Geochelone gigantea, living on Bird Island in the Seychelles is probably the world's largest free-roaming tortoise weighing in at a hefty 305 kilograms (672 pounds). In contrast to these island giants, the largest mainland tortoise -- the African spurred tortoise, Geochelone sulcata -- reaches a mere 90 kilograms (200 pounds) or so.

Two rare asiatic softshells vie for the title of largest freshwater turtle. A Pelochelys bibroni from southeast Asia measured 51 inches long and is estimated by Dr. Peter Pritchard to have weighed 400 pounds. The narrow-headed softshell Chitra indica, commonly reaches 36 inches and is rumored to reach as much as 72 inches. According to Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Turtles the alligator snapping turtle, Macroclemmys temminckii, is the USA's largest freshwater turtle at 76 kilograms (167 pounds). Among the Pleurodire (sideneck) turtles, the largest is the South American Arrau, Podocnemis expansa. Females may reach 90 kilograms (200 pounds).

The largest of all living turtles is a sea turtle. At an impressive six feet in length (and possibly longer) with a weight of some 590 kilograms (1300 pounds) the leatherback sea turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, is the true turtle giant!We got this information from the website below: click here

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