Difference Between Sea Turtles and Land Turtles

Sea Turtles vs Land Turtles
 

The names sea turtle and land turtle are a little bit confused among most of general people, as the scientific means are somewhat different. Therefore, a proper understanding would be beneficial for anyone. Scientifically, the term turtle refers to the marine testudines. Freshwater testudines are known as terrapins, and the land living or the terrestrial testudines are scientifically referred as tortoises. However, according to the commonly used terms or names, all these three types are known as turtles with the adjective of the respective environment. Interestingly, certain types are still known as terrapins or tortoises. Therefore, solving this controversy would take a few steps, and this article would be one such step as it discusses the characteristics and performs a comparison between land and sea turtles. In other words, this article is a brief comparison between turtles and tortoises.

Sea Turtle

Sea turtles or turtles are one of the earliest to live on the Earth, and the fossil evidences suggest that they had inhabited the world at least 210 million years ago. The fascinating thing about them is they have been able to survive until today with a wide diversity that accounts more than 210 extant species including land, freshwater, and sea turtles. However, there are only seven sea turtle species currently inhabit the oceans of the world. They are remarkably well adapted to the oceanic lifestyle with developed flippers do locomotion. Turtles are blessed with the longest lifespan of all the animals on the Earth, which is more than 80 years according to certain references but some state that it could go as high as 180 years. Sea turtles are distributed in all the oceans of the world except in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. They come to the surface for breathing and sometimes for navigation. The most fascinating characteristic of sea turtles is that they come back to the same beach that they were born for eggs laying.

Land Turtle

Land turtles, aka tortoises, are land dwelling reptiles belong to Class: Reptilia in general and to the Oder: Testudines in particular. There are more than 45 extant species currently, but the number is more likely to be increased. Tortoises being testudines, they have a shield covering their body known as the shell. The shell comprises of two types of structures known as the carapace (the top portion) and the plastron (the underside), and these two are interconnected by a bridge. In addition, tortoise has both the endoskeleton and the exoskeleton (shell). Land turtles come in different sizes depending on the species. They are diurnal animals more often than not, but some are crepuscular. However, their active time depends mostly on the ambient temperature of the environment. The majority of the tortoises demonstrate the sexual dimorphism, but the differences between the two sexes vary among species. For example, some species have larger male compared to the female, but certain other species have it in the other way around. Upon breeding, the female tortoise digs nesting burrows and lays one to thirty eggs in a burrow. Then, the eggs incubate in the ground for 60 to 120 days depending on the species. Usually, tortoises are herbivores, but some are omnivores as they feed on worms and insects.

What is the difference between Sea Turtle and Land Turtle?

• Sea turtles live in the sea and come to shore only for egg laying, whereas land turtles always live on land and barely go to water.

• Turtles have developed their limbs for swimming by forming flippers, but tortoises have legs for walking.

• Diversity of turtles is restricted to seven species, whereas tortoises are highly diversified with more than 45 extant species.

• Turtles nest on the very same beach that they were born, but no such observation has been made about tortoises.

• The egg incubation period of turtles is considerably short (21 days) compared to tortoises (60 – 120 days).