Et tu, Testudo?
August 29, 2019 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Whether you know the red-eared slider or the closely related, equally popular — and often invasiveyellow-bellied variety, or any of the names these reptiles are given around the globe: They breathe air, spend most of their time in water, and lay their eggs on land, but they aren’t amphibians. They are Testudines, but are they really turtles?

Also, not turtles… It was a tough today when my wife and I learned I am not a turtle.
posted by terrapin (20 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Now this is the type of post I come here for.
posted by downtohisturtles at 7:25 PM on August 29, 2019 [8 favorites]

Are you a turtle?
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:35 PM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

So I'm confused. is the Western Painted Turtle a Turtle or a Terrapin?

I love these guys BTW, they hibernate at the bottom of ponds underneath as much as a couple feet of ice. And when they are hibernating they stop breathing!
posted by Mitheral at 7:43 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Dang it now I really got to get on this animal namesake theme trend!

If you’ve never read the famous stories of Roy Orbison wrapped in cling film, remember:

It always starts the same way. I am in the garden airing my terrapin Jetta when he walks past my gate, that mysterious man in black.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:23 PM on August 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

Are you a turtle?

I don't need to click that link. You bet your sweet ass I am.

I rescued one of these guys from brackish water recently. Anyone want to suggest a name for him?
posted by aws17576 at 9:22 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Post title now has Phil Collins stuck in my head
posted by Pastor of Muppets at 10:31 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Did you know turtles sing when they are so happy together? Terrapins don't. Pretty sure.
posted by evilmomlady at 12:53 AM on August 30, 2019

Living in a German-speaking country, I find myself explaining the difference between turtles and tortoises surprisingly often (both are called Schildkröte, ‘shield toad’, here). Now I have to be aware of the turtle-terrapin difference too?!
posted by daisyk at 4:08 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wait, I'm confused and the links didn't really help: is the turtle/terrapin thing a fact about science (e.g. "People assume turtles and terrapins are closely related, but they're totally not") or about language (e.g. "They are closely related, but people use a different word for some of them anyway")?
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:42 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

From the post's Mirriam-Webster link:

Lethal Strike Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins have been on Earth for more than 200 million years,

I'm thinking Shredder will have his his work cut out against this upgrade from the Teenage Mutant Ninja variety.
posted by Eleven at 6:30 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

This post needs some Grateful Dead. Presumably where the cannabis dispensary got its name.
posted by TedW at 7:45 AM on August 30, 2019

Just don’t confuse terrapin with Terraplane.
posted by TedW at 7:48 AM on August 30, 2019

I like turtles. It doesn't matter if they are tortoises, terrapins or sea turtles.
posted by nolnacs at 8:16 AM on August 30, 2019

After going down a small-to-medium-sized rabbit hole, it looks like terrapins aren't a coherent biological group. The name "terrapin" got borrowed from the name for land tortoises in some Algonquian language or other (nerding out about which language here; they think it's probably Powhatan, which was spoken near Jamestown), and then used by the colonists for turtles and tortoises in other parts of the continent, and then sort of sporadically for ones other places.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:25 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

This post needs some Grateful Dead.

Psst. Check out the first bullet point.
posted by terrapin at 9:48 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I couldn't find a place for a link to Koopa.
posted by terrapin at 11:07 AM on August 30, 2019


posted by Telf at 11:18 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

All I know is that diamond backed terrapins are beautiful turtles. I try to time a birding trip down the salt marshes of the New Jersey coast to coincide with when they're moving about just so I can get a chance to see them.
posted by mollweide at 6:07 PM on August 30, 2019

The later subsequent Robert Silverberg post reminded me that I've always conflated Hunter's lyrics for Terrapin Station with Silverberg's Hawksbill Station. It doesn't look like there's a direct connection?
posted by ovvl at 2:58 PM on August 31, 2019

Ovvl, can’t say I am familiar with the latter. Check out annotated Grateful Dead lyrics for some clues?
posted by terrapin at 12:00 PM on September 1, 2019

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