October 25, 2010 – Turtle G.A.S. Mask
Mask #162 of 365… only 203 left!
Guerrilla Art Squadron is back! It’s been too long since the last G.A.S. mask but today is a treat. Turtles have been around for 215 million years, that’s older than snakes and lizards. I had a box turtle as a kid, and of course his name was Michelangelo. Did you know that the difference between a turtle and a tortoise is a matter of language not science? Check out what I found out on Wikipedia:
Turtle, tortoise, or terrapin
Although the word turtle is widely used to describe all members of the order Testudines, it is also common to see certain members described as terrapins, tortoises or sea turtles as well. Precisely how these alternative names are used, if at all, depends on the type of English being used.
- British English normally describes these reptiles as turtles if they live in the sea; terrapins if they live in fresh or brackish water; or tortoises if they live on land. However, there are exceptions to this where American or Australian common names are in wide use, as with the Fly River turtle.
- American English tends to use the word turtle as a general term for all species. “Tortoise” is used for most land-dwelling species, including the family Testudinidae and box tortoises. Oceanic species are usually referred to as sea turtles. The name “terrapin” is typically reserved only for the brackish water diamondback terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin; the word terrapin being derived from the Algonquian word for this animal.
- Australian English uses turtle for both the marine and freshwater species, but tortoise for the terrestrial species.
To avoid confusion, the word chelonian is popular among veterinarians, scientists, and conservationists working with these animals as a catch-all name for any member of the superorder Chelonia, which includes all turtles, tortoises and terrapins living and extinct, as well as their immediate ancestors. It is based on the Ancient Greek word χελώνη, chelōnē; Modern Greek χελώνα, chelōna; meaning turtle/tortoise.