DEFY SMCQUAID! #51: Turtle Power!

The Question
Meghan asks:

Dear Shaun,

Is a turtle’s shell just like, an armor for the actual turtle, or does the shell actually contain all the turtle’s organs and stuff?

Your sister,

The Answer

The turtle is an interesting creature, is it not? In fact, the shell is just what it appears to be – a shell. The body of the turtle under the shell houses all the internal organs. One turtle anatomy weirdness is that the lungs of the turtle are just beneath the shell – pretty much pressed up against it – and this means that the turtle breathes by squishing the lungs against the upper shell and then letting them expand.

But yes, definitely the shell is just armor. There’s a bony inner layer and a scaled outer layer. And there is a top layer (the carapace) and a bottom layer (the plastron).

I won’t go into any further detail, since I’m not an expert, but keep in mind – this shell is what allows the turtle to be an excellent candidate for ninja training.

3 thoughts on “DEFY SMCQUAID! #51: Turtle Power!

  • 1/3/2006 at 8:01 am

    Just to clarify: The shell is armor in the idea that it serves a purely protective role. It is not, like chain or plate mail (+3 magic resistance) removable. The turtles ribs and spine are fused to the shell. If you take a turtle out of its shell, he will quickly die because you ripped out his spine, ala Mortal Kombat.

  • 1/3/2006 at 11:20 am

    Did you know turtles have big claws? One time Ruth removed a VERY large snapping turtle from the middle of the VERY busy Otis Rotary on Cape Cod using her bare hands!! Said snapping turtle was VERY not happy with her and tried to claw her with some VERY large claws on its hind legs. Luckily turtle was brought to safety, and both Ruth and Turtle were unharmed. It was awesome.

  • 1/3/2006 at 9:28 pm

    ah, that was the thing I was wondering about…if it was at all possible to be a shell-less turtle. I guess not.


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