Inside a tortoise's shell. Credit: X / @AdaMcVean

People mind-blown after seeing what a turtle’s skeleton actually looks like😱😱😱😱

If you’ve ever wondered what a tortoise looks like inside the shell, then today is your lucky day. Tortoises, turtles, and terrapins are a strange group of reptiles, though they are vertebrates they’re different from other vertebrates in one key aspect.

This is of course the distinctive shell which surrounds the soft bits of the animal. Whereas something like a hippo, or a lizard, or a human has a hard bone structure supporting the soft bits, tortoises have an armoured shell around them. You may be familiar with the kind of kind of cartoons featuring turtles or tortoises where they are somehow ejected from their shell.

The tortoise then typically looks very embarrassed, covers themselves up as though their towel has blown away after getting out of the shower, and darts back inside their shell.

It makes them seem like snails or even hermit crabs, but in fact, this is very misleading.While tortoises, turtles, and terrapins can withdraw their vulnerable limbs and head back into their shells, they can no more get out of them completely than your skeleton could jump out of your body and do a little dance.

If you were to look at the inside of a tortoise’s shell, you’d see that the animal’s spine is, in fact, a part of the shell itself. The vertebrae are very distinct, with the limbs branching off them like any other four-limbed vertebrate.

This offers the animal the protection of the hard shell, to stop predators from getting to the soft bits inside.

Of course, the trade off is that the spine can no longer move, so the animal loses a lot of flexibility. Still, must be nice to not have to worry about lower back pain.People were flabbergasted by the image, and took to social media, with one writing: “I didn’t want to know this.”. Another replied: “To all the turtles I’ve hurt laboring under this misconception: I’m sorry.” A third joked: “Super Mario has a lot to answer for.”

Inside a tortoise's shell. Credit: X / @AdaMcVean
Inside a tortoise’s shell. Credit: X / @AdaMcVean

Unfortunately, Giant Tortoises didn’t account for human beings when they evolved their enormous shells.Ships arriving into the Galapagos from Europe would frequently stock up on the animals as they made such good eating.Their low metabolism meant the tortoises could be stacked alive on top of each other and live for months, meaning they stayed fresh on long voyages.

If properly butchered, they even yielded drinking water.And finally of course, the unfortunate animals even came with their own built-in cooking pot.William Dampier, a British pirate based in the Galapagos in the 17th century, wrote that they were “extraordinary large and fat, and so sweet, that no pullet eats more pleasantly.”

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