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Turtles

Green turtle, worldwide, up to 1.5 m (5 ft) long Turtles are reptiles with shells made of bony plates. They live in the water: some in the oceans, others in freshwater rivers and ponds. Most have webbed feet, but marine turtles have paddle-like flippers that allow them to swim at speed. Turtles do not have teeth. Instead they have sharp, horny, beak-like mouths. They are mostly plant-eaters, but some species also feed on fish and other small animals.


Hawksbill turtle, worldwide, up to 1 m (3.3 ft) long
Loggerhead turtle, worldwide, up to 1 m (3.3 ft) long

Shells

Turtles' shells are in two parts: one, the carapace, forms a dome over the back; the other, called the plastron, covers the belly; a bony bridge connects the two. For extra protection, the shell is covered with thick, horny scales called scutes. If threatened, most turtles are able to draw their heads backwards into their shells. Marine turtles' shells are flatter and streamlined for swimming. By counting the rings formed by the layers of scutes, it is possible to work out the age of the turtle.
 

Most sea turtles live at least to the age of 50. Some kinds of turtles can live for 80 years or more.

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