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What Are the Anatomical Differences Between Turtles, Tortoises, and Terrapins?

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Updated on Aug 31, 2012

Grade Level: 6th - 8th; Type: Zoology

Objective:

Investigate the anatomical differences between turtles, tortoises, and terrapins, three similar animals.

Research Questions:

Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins are all reptiles and their general appearance can be described as short, stout, and hard-shelled as well as dark in color. Many people confuse one for another. In this experiment, we'll try to map the differences between them.

Materials:

From a pet store or zoo:

  • A turtle
  • A tortoise
  • A terrapin
  • A magnifying glass
  • Pen and paper for notes

Experimental Procedure

  1. Take a magnifying glass and observe the turtle, tortoise, and terrapin.
  2. Make sure to observe the shell, the hardness of the shell, the shape of the arms/legs, underneath the turtle, and in all areas.
  3. Write down any differences that you see.
  4. Compare these differences, but also think about the functional differences. What role do these differences play in their survival and habitat?

Suggested Chart

Notes
Turtle

Tortoise

Terrapin

Terms/Concepts: Turtles; Tortoises; Terrapins; Reptiles

References:

Sofia PC is currently a college student with a deep interest in science who is aspiring to become a writer. She writes about all sorts of things across all subjects including, but not limited to; science, crafts, and fashion. She hopes to become a good writer so she can share her thoughts and experiences with the world and future generations.

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