The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), sometimes called the lute turtle or leathery turtle or simply the luth, is the largest of all living turtles and is the fourth-heaviest modern reptile behind three crocodilians. It is the only living species in the genus Dermochelysand family Dermochelyidae. It can easily be differentiated from other modern sea turtles by its lack of a bony shell, hence the name. Instead, its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh.

The Chelonians

From bottom to top:
1. Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
2. Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus)
3. Galapagos Tortoise (Dipsochelys dussumieri)
4. Argentine Snake-Necked Turtle (Hydromedusa tectifera)
5. Mata Mata (Chelus fimbriata)
6. Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
7. Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

The Testidunes (or Chelonii, often called Chelonians) are the reptiles belonging to the order Testudines, and include all of the turtles and tortoises. This order is characterized by their protective bony carapaces, which developed from their ribs millions of years ago. Ribs still line the inside of the shell.

As they’re reptiles, they’re ectothermic, and their body temperature adjusts to the surroundings. They’re all amniotes, as well - that is, they lay eggs outside of the water.

The carapace of most chelonians is covered by bony, overlapping plates, called scutes. However, some species, such as the leatherback sea turtle, have a thick, oily skin covering their carapace instead. Chelonians also have a protective chest plate, called a plastron.


The difference between “turtle”, “tortoise”, and “terrapin” is defined differently depending upon your field and what part of the world you live in. In general, turtles live in either freshwater or the ocean. Tortoises live on dry land and cannot swim. Terrapin is a more specific term for some turtles, referring to the small, edible, hard-shelled turtles.

While all chelonians can be long-lived (as their organs do not suffer age-related decay), large torotoises are the best-known for living over a hundred years. Jonathan, a Seychelles Giant Tortoise, is 183 years old next week, and is the oldest living vertebrate!

Kuntsformen der Natur. Ernst Haeckel, 1904.


The WWF and the Zoological Society of London have released a new analysis that shows the earth has lost 50% of its vertebrate wildlife in the last 40 years.

This steep decline of vertebrates was calculated by analysing 10,000 populations of more than 3,000 species. The data was then used to create a ‘Living Planet Index’ (LPI), to reflect the state of all 45,000 known species of vertebrates. And the result is this - in the last 40 years, we have managed to kill 50% of all earth’s known vertebrates. And remember, this analysis didn’t include invertebrates, so the total overall loss could be much, much higher.

The fastest declines are in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have dropped 75% since 1970. Freshwater rivers often represent the end of a system, where effluent often ends up.

The graph above shows the causes of vertebrate decline based on analysis of 3,430 species’ populations. As it stands, we are cutting down trees for soy, timber, and beef faster than they can grow. We are hunting animals faster than they can reproduce. We are pumping water out of rivers faster than rainfall can replenish them. And we are pumping out carbon faster than can be absorbed (and even then, the absorption of carbon dioxide by oceans is another issue).

The photos above show just some of the animals that have been experienced serious declines in the last 40 years. As reported by The Guardian:

David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK said: “The scale of the destruction highlighted in this report should be a wake-up call for us all. But 2015 – when the countries of the world are due to come together to agree on a new global climate agreement, as well as a set of sustainable development goals – presents us with a unique opportunity to reverse the trends.

“We all – politicians, businesses and people – have an interest, and a responsibility, to act to ensure we protect what we all value: a healthy future for both people and nature.”


Turtle skulls! Again!

In the second image, the species are: (A) Lissemys punctata, (B) Chelonia mydas, C) Eretmochelys imbricata, (D) Dermochelys coriacea, (E) Macrochelys temminckii, (F) Kinosternon subrubrum, (G) Testudo graeca, (H) Cuora trifasciata, (I) Pseudemys concinna, (J) Terrapene ornata, (K) Emys orbicularis, L) Platysternon megacephalum, M) Macrochelodina (“Chelodina”) expansa, (N) Emydura maquarii, (O) Chelus fimbriatus, (P) Podocnemis expansa, (Q) Pelusios sinuatus.

Werneburg, I. (2012) Temporal Bone Arrangements in Turtles: An Overview. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 318 235–249.

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) by hvilorio Leatherback Sea Turtle Hatchling making his way out to sea, the beginning of a journey and life… It’s amazing how these little turtles grow up to become almost 2,000 pounds, and even more amazing is how they know what to do once they are born… How great is our GOD!!!

Romans 1:20 (HCSB)
For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.


Tortuga Tinglar recién nacida en su partida a aguas profundas, el principio de su vida y su viaje por el mar… Es impresionante como estas pequeñas tortugas crecen hasta pesar casi 2,000 lbs, y aún mas maravilloso como saben que hacer cuando nacen… Cuan grande es nuestro DIOS!!!

Romanos 1:20 (RVR1960)
Porque las cosas invisibles de él, su eterno poder y deidad, se hacen claramente visibles desde la creación del mundo, siendo entendidas por medio de las cosas hechas, de modo que no tienen excusa.