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13 Incredible Facts Turtles Are Hiding Inside Their Shells

Hint: it's not pizza.


A turtle's shell is actually made up of about 50 different bones.


It may look like just one solid shield, but the shell is made up of multiple bones, and is formed through the fusion of the turtle's ribs and vertebrae.


In fact, the shell is really more like a rib cage the turtle wears outside its body.



Unlike most shelled animals, this means the turtle cannot completely remove itself from its shell.

Source: oocities.org

Can you remove yourself from your own spine and rib cage? Didn't think so.


To pull their heads into the shell for protection, turtles do some crazy spinal gymnastics.


If I tried that, I'd be paying a chiropractor for the rest of my life.


Some turtle shells have a moveable joint that acts as a hinge and enables the creature to pull the two shell sections together tightly while it retracts its body inside.


They look tough, but turtle shells aren't armor.

Source: snopes.com

Shells have nerves embedded in them and a blood supply as well, so if a turtle's shell is injured, it may bleed and feel pain. 


In 1968, a pair of Russian tortoises became the first creatures ever to venture into deep space.


"The tortoises showed that living creatures could complete the lunar voyage unharmed, apart from losing a little weight, with their trip said to have paved the way for future travellers to the moon," explains Calvert Journal.


Turtles can be ruthless predators.


One particularly brutal species is the alligator snapping turtle. This reptile can grow to 2.5 feet long, can weigh as much as 200 pounds, and has powerful jaws, a sharply-hooked beak, nasty bearlike claws and a muscular tail. It lures its prey--which sometimes includes other turtles--by wiggling its tongue which just happens to look a lot like a worm.


Turtles don't have vocal chords (but they can still make sounds).


Most turtle noises are hisses; however turtles have also been known to make noises that include grunting, hooting and clucking. They do so by jerking their heads in such a way that it squeezes air out of the lungs.


They turn into ass-sniffers when they're horny.

Source: wikimedia.org

A female turtles sexual organs are hidden inside their cloaca, a cavity near the tail that's used for both reproduction and pooping. Male turtles use their keen sense of smell to detect the scent of pheromones secreted inside the cloaca. 


Speaking of buttholes, some turtles breathe through them. 

Source: gldar

In some turtle species, the cloaca is surrounded by a thin membrane. Gas exchange can occur across this membrane when a turtle is submerged and allow some oxygen to reach the blood while they're chilling underwater.


Several species of turtles can live to be over a hundred years of age including the American Box Turtle.

Source: etsy.com

Their land-loving cousins, the tortoise, can live even longer.


Turtles aren't as slow as you think.


"They're herbivores, so they don’t have to chase their food. They have nice, thick shells, which means that most predators simply don’t bother with them. So, they don’t have to chase food, and they don’t have to run away from predators, so there isn’t any reason for them to be anything except slow," explains Doctor Science. You might be surprise how quickly they can scoot when threatened, though.



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