Saturday, February 26, 2011

Slow To Learn About Turtles

It was a Tuesday night, and the Keeper of the Playmobile Village had another entry to write in her 5th grade science journal. She retrieved a long-ignored old turtle shell from the back porch, and though the shell did not look to be a particularly promising door to discovery, we were taken by surprise. Who knew, for instance, that the scales (called scutes) that form a pattern on the turtle's back are actually skin that covers some 60 bones comprising the shell? Certainly not we who had until now been largely unmindful of turtle lore. Or that the dark color of turtle shells helps them absorb the sun's heat when basking on a log. Or that the way the seams between the scutes extend pretty much straight across the back of this turtle (photo) from side to side make this an eastern painted turtle that has long since lost its colors. Its surviving offspring are likely hibernating in some nice mud at the bottom of a lake or stream right now, dreaming of basking in the sun through summer days, and living to the ripe old age of 55, as painted turtles have been known to do.

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