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Last major update of this page was in early 1996. I am not satisfied with the content. I am working hard on a new version (overview, keratine / bone structure, ear structure and the others interesting chelonian special topics) which I plan to finish till the end of February 1999. I am sorry to use the “time shortage” argument -- unfortunately, it's true. Please accept my apology.

Anatomy of turtle
The backbone of the turtle is partly coalescent with the shell. Most species are able to hide the whole head, limbs and tail. Some species can even "cover" all the soft parts with movable shell scutes. The upper part of the shell is called the carapace, the lower part the plastron. Usually the turtles' carapace has 5 central scutes, 8 costals and 24 marginal scutes: The amount marginal scutes (plus whether odd or even) and the shape of the plastron is one of the most significant differentiations between species.

To find out the sex of hatchlings is a little bit hard. For matured turtles you can use the rule that males have a longer tail (and claws) and the plastron is bent inside for good stability in mating. The male is nearly always smaller than a female. Exceptional are only the largest terrestial species, like giant tortoises.

(Emys orbicularis,
european pond turtle

   krční obratlecervical vertebrals
   krční štíteknuchal scute
   okrajní deskymarginal scutes
   žebra přecházející   
   v desky costalní
ribs continuing
into the costal scutes
   hřbetní obratledorsal vertebrals
   destička řitnípygal scute