Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Turtles : Fear of extinction
The turtle is an important symbol in the mythologies of many indigenous cultures, usually representing creation, longevity, and wisdom in these belief systems. Turtles are thus truly ancient beings-both in geological and mythological terms. Turtles are reptiles whose soft body is covered by a hard shell. Most turtles can pull their legs, tail, and head into the shell for protection. Like other reptiles, all turtles are cold-blooded; their body temperature about matches the temperature of their environment.
Freshwater turtles have a flattened disc-like shell covered with soft skin. The limbs are semi-circular, paddle-like, and have three claws. Their neck is very flexible and extensile. These are commonly seen in ponds, lakes, rivers and even in wells. They prefer basking on rocks and dead tree trunks. Mud turtles swim well but prefer to lie half buried in mud and snap at passing prey with extremely fast thrust of the long neck. The turtle is able to withstand prolonged starvation. A captive turtle lived for two years without taking food. This group is long lived and there is longevity record of 152 years of giant tortoise which lived from 1766 to 1918 in one of the Seychelles Islands.
Another type of turtles lived in sea. These Sea turtles are reptiles that spend the majority of their lives in the ocean. Females reach reproductive age after 35 to 40 years, and only then return to the beach of their birth to lay their eggs for the next generation. Although a female may lay hundreds of eggs in one season, only a few of the hatchlings will survive to reach maturity. Between species, turtles vary in size from the bog turtle of about 4 inches long (10 centimeters) to the huge leatherback sea turtle, which can mature to 4 to 8 feet lengths (1.2 to 2.4 meters). Many turtles spend their entire life within a short distance from where they were hatched, but most sea turtles migrate thousand of miles. Sea turtles are also fast swimmers; but on land most kinds of turtles are slow. Most turtles are omnivores that are they eat both plants and animals but the exact foods consumed vary between the species. Today over 40 species of turtles including most sea turtles and many types of tortoises are endangered, and if turtle conservation and protection does not improve, certain species will become extinct forever.
Yuwaraj Gurjar

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