Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's Turtles All The Way Down.

Today's NYT Science Times section has a great article on turtles. It's too long and too juicy to excerpt, so I will just summarize some highlights, in no particular order:

o Everyone loves turtles, because they're clumsy and harmless and slow. I would also add non-allergenic and often rather cute.

o For all intents and purposes, turtles do not age. Their organs do not deteriorate at all as they get older. (On the other hand, it takes some sea turtles 40-50 years to finish puberty, which might explain why they abandon their eggs.)

o Turtles can stop their hearts at will.

o Turtles are incredibly strong, otherwise they wouldn't be able to move at all, due to the awkward angle their shells force their legs into.

o Forest turtles can spot bodies of water from a mile away, and some turtles may communicate through ground-transmitted subsonics.

o The turtle shell is part of their skeleton, comprised mostly of modified ribs and vertebrae.

o There are turtles on every continent, and in most habitats, except Antarctica.

o There are turtles that eat jellyfish, ice cream, and human corpses (not the same turtle).

o Other than disease, Man is pretty much the only threat to an adult turtle, primarily through habitat destruction and running over with cars.

o The male Gibba turtle apparently has "the sex appeal of a floating toupee."

Curiously, there is no mention of Senator John Cornyn anywhere in the story.


V said...

I want one of those turtles that eats human corpses. He will be my best friend, and together we will rule the earth.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Gee whiz Eli, thanks for the turtle story, I always thought you might have a little crush on me..lol. Good stuff thanks.

lotus said...

I want to cut that main pinup -- the hooked-snouty guy -- loose on the Oval and the OVP. Right after he's fasted for three months. In fact, make that a herd of 'em.

Eli said...

I'm a sucker for an ageless woman with powerful snapping jaws - but even more so for one who wants to rule the world with a corpse-eating turtle at her side.

I like the idea of Turtle Mayhem in the Oval Office - I'm not sure if the buggers would be fast enough, but I guess if there were *enough* of them it wouldn't matter.

Which reminds me - the story didn't say anything about "post turtles" either...

lotus said...

Yer right, Eli, it didn't. And I'm glad, too, cause post turkles allus make me sad.

lotus said...

Meant to say: my fave was certainly the little guy who stands on his hind legs for his ice cream. Now THERE's a turtle.

Eli said...

I thought that was charming as well, and I almost included it. But ultimately decided that it was perhaps not a sufficiently... universal Fascinating True Turtle Fact.