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THE CHELONIANS
_Geochelone elephantopus_ looking pretty cool

Bodyplan Senses Evolution & Distribution Menu



The chelonia is the group that contains all the world's turtles and tortoises. These animals are very interesting for they are the only vertebrates that have enclosed their bodies in a protective shell. Now some might say that armadillos have this type of armor, but armadillos can't tuck into their bodies like chelonians can.

The chelonia comprises about 230 different species. Their diversity is very astounding to note. At first one would think that a body encased in a shell would limit the amount of diversity these animals could have, yet these animals live in nearly every type of habitat in the world. They can be found in areas as different as the Brazilian rainforests to the arctic.

The chelonia are divided into two suborders. There is the Pleurodires which are commonly called the side-necked turtles. They of course get this name for the way their head and neck fold into their shell. These turtles have the longest necks compared to body size than almost any other animal. The other group is the Cryptodires which are the turtles and tortoises that fold their heads and necks in a U curve which allows for better protection. These are the more numerous of the chelonians alive today, but each suborder is fascinating to learn about.

The chelonia, at 230 different species are the third largest order of reptilians and are too large for me to devote an entire page to each species. So instead I have broken them up into their respective families followed by their genera. Afterwards I will give a basic description of each genus and possibly point out the most unique species in that genus. Enjoy!


Cryptodira Pleurodira
CARETTOCHELYDIAE = The Fly River Turtle CHELIDAE = The Snake Necked Turtles
CHELYDRIDAE = The Snapping Turtles PELOMEDUSIDAE The Afro-American Side Necked Turtles
DERMATEMYDIDAE = The Central American River Turtle
CHELONIIDAE = The Marine Turtles
DERMOCHELYDAE = The Leatherback
EMYDIDAE = The Freshwater Turtles
KINOSTERNIDAE = The American Mud and Musk Turtles
STAUROTYPIDAE = The Mexican Musk Turtles
TESTUDINIDAE = The Tortoises
TRIONYCHIDAE = The Soft Shelled Turtles
PLATYSTERNIDAE = The Big Headed Turtles

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