by William White
After reading those two books about sea turtles, I remembered I had another turtle book on my own shelf. This one came to me from a library sale somewhere. I didn't expect much of it, as it's a pretty old book, published before I was born (ye gads!) I thought the information would be brief, out-of-date and lacking in scope.
Well, it was actually pretty interesting. There was a lot of info packed in here, especially about what goes on inside of turtles. It shows how turtles breathe, and how their respiratory and digestive systems work. (This was partly disturbing, as the illustrations were actual photographs of turtles being dissected. Poor quality photos, too, so not only were they gross-looking, but also difficult to tell what you're looking at! I think a well-drawn diagram would have worked better). I was fascinated by the series of photos that show how a turtle embryo develops inside the egg (but again, disturbed by the fact- admitted in the text- that they peeled the shell off eggs in various stages of growth, to make the pictures). Little turtles are so cute! The book describes how turtles live in their different habitats, and the curious adaptations of some of the different species. Some, like the box turtle, can completely enclose themselves in a shell that has a hinge. On others, the shell is much smaller and the animal can't draw in its legs or head for protection. Some of the stranger-looking ones are the soft-shell turtle with a long tubular snout, and the matamata, a turtle with a thick neck, wide leering mouth and even longer nose! True, the book was lacking some facts that simply weren't known at the time- such as where sea turtles nested- but they did recognize that habitat destruction and egg-taking were threatening the populations of many species. The end of the book predicts that "many turtle species will no longer exist on earth by the year 2000". I tried to look this up, but although quite a few species went extinct around the 1800's, I couldn't find a list of any recent extinctions. In fact, quite a few have made a surprising comeback. So hopefully the world is getting a little better for turtles.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 96 pages, 1973