Happy World Turtle Day!

Five weird but cool facts about our shelly friends.

Turtles: are they the greatest animal ever?

Why yes, yes they are. I don’t really know why I framed that in terms of a question, as there really isn’t another animal that even compares. Cats? Cats are the spawns of demons that have somehow nestled themselves into our homes and hearts. They have nine lives for a reason, it’s because people are constantly trying to vanquish their hell-bound souls. Dogs? Sure they are “man’s best friend,” but that’s because they are sexist bigots that hate women. Do you like tigers, or lions, maybe even dinosaurs? See how much you like them one on one. They’d tear your limbs asunder like wings at a mid-western Hooters during a Nascar race.

That kid's nose is gonna get snapped off if he's not careful.

That kid’s nose is gonna get snapped off if he’s not careful.

Now a turtle, a turtle would never do that. Sure sometimes it might give you salmonella, or accidentally squash a bystander or two while battling Godzilla on the streets of Japan, but it would never intentionally hurt you. If it had the choice it would buy you cookies and tell you it loved you for who you are on the inside. And as if that weren’t enough, think about what else turtles have given us!

They’ve taught us that teenagers – AND those afflicted by nuclear mutations – can learn ninjitsu and be a force for good. They’ve taught us that slow and steady wins the race  (unless of course it is an actual timed foot race – in which case that policy is grossly inaccurate) and subsequently that rabbits are dicks. They’ve given us something to rhyme Yertle with, helped us wax our cars to a pristine shine, and taught us that sometimes the best defense is to just curl up and let the world come at you.

So let’s honor and appreciate our fine reptilian friend, and take some time to learn more about these wondrous creatures. On today — his day.

Turtles don’t have vocal chords

True story. So every impassioned speech Leonardo gave about the merits of teamwork, loyalty, or friendship: really missed the mark with the crew. Or to put it more accurately, “it fell on deaf ears,” as turtles also don’t have an outer ear. They can hear vibrations though, and they can – mainly by forcing air in and out of their lungs – make noise. Although if Leonardo’s speeches went anything like this…

…he’d probably be better off just saying nothing.

Turtle baby’s sexes are determined by temperature

Some turtles are born Russian grandmothers.

Some turtles are born Russian grandmothers.

And that may actually be a huge problem. Unlike human babies – whose sex is determined by which type of light beer the man used on his mate – turtle baby sex is determined by the temperature of incubation during an egg’s first trimester. If it’s hot, the turtle offspring will be a girl, if it’s cold – a boy. If it’s perfectly fair, the baby will be Ru Paul. Even though one would imagine this would lead to horrifically skewed gender splits, the equation tends to balance out for the most part. Or at least it did before the start of global warming. Scientists have begun to see a drop in males in certain species (because of hotter incubation temperatures) and fear that it may be very impactful for their future survival. Almost as impactful as looking up “turtle baby sexes” on your work computer. Whoops.

Turtle shells are part of their bodies (and not all are hard)

See, THIS kid knows how to handle the omnipotent turtle with caution.

See, THIS kid knows how to handle the omnipotent turtle with caution.

So anytime someone tells you to “come out of your shell,” you can kindly tell them that it’s f@%#ing impossible. Turtle shells actually consist of around 60% of a turtle’s bones – including those of the ribcage and spine – and hard “scutes” (or scales) made out of fibrous keratin. The same stuff that makes up our nails and hair. There are some turtles though – most notably the leatherback turtle – who don’t have these scales. Instead they have a tough leathery skin (if only their name reflected it…) which extends over the aforementioned bone structure. Yes it has made them the laughing stock of the turtle community, but it’s key to the fact they are the fastest reptile on the planet, measuring speeds over 25 miles per hour in the water. A fact you were soon to find out in Fox’s summer blockbuster Tortoise vs. Hare 2: The Reckoning. “Because this time, slow and steady drowns.” Coming to a theater near you June 2015.

Turtles have mastered time and space

Use by December 13, 2207

Use by December 13, 2207

Despite what the plot of TMNT 3 would have you believe, which shows that turtles have not perfected time travel (but that they have mastered racial insensitivity). Turtles just own time. For starters, they are almost physically unchanged in the last 200 million years. Fossil records indicate that the turtles that were chilling with the dinosaurs, are absurdly similar to the ones that currently chill out in rich rapper’s home aquariums. Well, minus the whole “having freedom” part. Turtles also live a ridiculously long time. The oldest turtle on record lived to be 188 years old. 188. He was born in 1777, and died in 1965. Out of boredom. 188 years. That’s the oldest human (an astounding 122, by the way) plus another 66 years. That’s nearly two centuries, almost three times the running time of Return of the King. Take that, Tolkien nerds.

No really, they do not die.

Both parties disapprove of everything you do.

Both disapprove of everything you do.

Are turtles God? Did I miss something?

We need to figure out how to defeat these things immediately. Well, besides flipping them over. That would probably do it.

Pictured: Diving? (image via ABC.com)

Pictured: Diving? (image via ABC.com)

Andrew Slafta is a “hopeful comedic writer” with an emphasis on the “dic.” He can be searched in the annals of Google, or insulted at Twitter via @andrewslafta.

Gustav Heurlin

Awww, piggie.

Andrew previously wasted your time on eight shows better than ABC’s Splash. Now if you want something that will make you feel less dirty than that show, have yourself a Happy National Pig Day!

More from Andrew Slafta

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