The shell of a turtle is what sets it apart from every other pet. The form of shell turtles have actually is unique to them, and also it’s additionally the reason why we deserve to easily acknowledge a turtle when we watch one. But deserve to turtles live without their shells? To uncover out the answer I chose to do some research study, below is what I found out.

You are watching: Can turtles live without their shell

Can turtles live without their shells? No, turtles can not live without their shells. The shell of a turtle is part of the skeleton, and it cannot be rerelocated.

So we more than likely won’t see any type of turtle without a shell too soon, if ever. But this doesn’t intend that turtles without shells didn’t exist. Before the modern-day turtles with shell existed, tbelow were shell-less ancient turtles, so we have to have a look at those turtles. But prior to that, let’s start by looking at the shells of today’s turtles and check out why turtles can’t live without them.

The Shells of Today’s Turtles

The turtle shell is made out of two main components, the carapace and also plastron. And 2 secondary components.

Photos by braindamaged217 on Flickr

The Carapace

The carapace is the top part of the shell, the component that covers the earlier of the turtle, and it’s typically in the form of a dome.

The carapace is mostly made out of broad and also flattened ribs that have actually fused together, along with components of the backbone.

Photo by Pere López on Wikipedia

The backbone is foffered via the rest of the carapace, yet a significant part of it can still be distinguiburned from the remainder of the bones, unchoose the ribs that have actually fsupplied completely.

Turtles are the only animals in the human being that have actually all of their ribs foffered into one massive piece, eexceptionally other pet has multiple ribs that are separated from each various other.

There are over 300 different species of turtles, and all of the have actually a various shell form, some of them have actually a rounder shell, some of them have an extra pronounced dome form, and some of them have actually virtually flat shells, but all of them have actually the very same bone structure on the inside. Even if the shell has a different shape.

The carapace is the a lot of exposed component of the shell, so it also has the function to protect the turtle from any kind of risk.

The bony carapace provides the turtle a great defense against predators. But the bones that make the shell have actually a limit. As with our bones they have the right to break if tbelow is as well much push used to them. And just like our bones they deserve to heal, yet up to a point.

If the carapace is is entirely cracked the turtle doesn’t have actually any kind of possibility of survival, simply prefer we can’t entirely heal our bones without surgical treatment, neither they can’t.

But if the carapace is cracked just a little then tright here is a possibility that it have the right to heal on its very own.

Now let’s talk around the various other side of the shell, the plastron.

The Plastron

Photo by Ptarp on Wikipedia

The plastron is the posterior component of the turtle. This component is usually flat, however at some turtle species it deserve to be a tiny curve.

The plastron is comprised of nine bones and also the 2 epiplastra. Here is a list of the names of each bone:

Photo by Faendalimas on Wikipedia

At the moment the advancement of the plastron is a mystery. In the instance of the carapace we recognize that it was formed due to the fusion of the ribs and also the backbone. But once it pertains to the plastroon tbelow is no certain answer. The many welcomed theory was found in the 19th century by a French zoologist, who argued that the plastron is occurred by the sternum of the turtle. But at the minute his theory hasn’t been proven.

The carapace and the platoon are the main components that write the shell, however the shell has two other crucial parts, one that connects the carapace and also the plastron, and also one that protects the carapace.

The Bridge

The bridge is the component that connects the carapace and plastron, and also it have the right to be discovered on the sides of a turtle.

Photo by braindamaged217 on Flickr

The beginnings of the bridge are also unrecognized. But many probably the bridge is likewise developed from fsupplied ribs.

The bridge has 2 duties, to defend the sides of the turtle, and also to store the carapace and the plastron fsupplied. Even if the bridge doesn’t carry out as well many type of things, the points that it does are essential.

Now let’s relocate to the final component.

The Scutes

The carapace of a turtle is extended through scutes. Scutes are made out of keratin. Keratin is the same thing that our nails are made out of.


Scutes act as a layer of protection for carapace. Many turtles are going to shed their scutes and prosper new ones. So if an pet bites them, the scutes will certainly obtain damaged instead of the carapace. And since they have the right to burned the scutes away and also thrive new ones, it won’t be such a large difficulty.

But not all turtles have the right to burned their scutes. Tortoises, which are turtles that don’t live in the water, won’t melted their scutes. Instead they will flourish brand-new ones on optimal of the ones that they already have actually.

There are a couple of soft shelled turtles that don’t have actually scutes, but instead they have actually something comparable to leather that covers their body. Here is one example:

Picture by Johnskate17 on Wikipedia

Why Turtles Can’t Live Without a Shell

Before relocating to the next part where we talk around prehistoric turtles without shells, I wanted to sum up in a few words why turtles can’ live without a shell.

The many essential reason why turtles can’t live without a shell is bereason the shell is part of their body. The shell is made out practically all the bones inside the body of a turtle. The shell is what keeps every little thing in its ideal location. Without a shell a turtle will certainly look prefer a melted jello.

Even if somehow turtles regulated to save their proper form without a shell, they would be basically left defencemuch less. The shell of a turtle acts as its main method of defending from predators. If you take that ameans all turtles will certainly basically be left defenceless.

Now that we recognize about turtle shells, what they are made out of and why turtles require them, let’s take a look at the primitive turtles that lived without a shell.

The Turtles That Lived Without a Shell

A few years earlier tright here were two big theories around just how turtles gained their shells.

The first one suggested that the earliest turtles didn’t have actually shells, however instead they had somepoint similar to the scutes of modern-day turtles on their backs. And that with the periods they gathered also even more scutes, that finished up fmaking use of via the bones underneath and also ended up creating the shell that we view now.

The other theory suggested that the ribs of the prehistoric turtles started to extend and broaden, till they ended up fusing together, resulting in the shell that we recognize.

Today we know that the initially theory was wrong, and also that the shell is the result of the ribs that extended and fprovided together. But the factor why this occurred is still unrecognized.

Some of the oldest fossils have displayed that the first turtles that were acquiring cshed to just how contemporary turtles look, just had actually the plastron, and also no carapace. Instead of a carapace they had actually ribs prefer the majority of pets perform. The name of that turtle species is odontochelys, and also it lived about 220 millions years ago.

Here is a simulation of what odontochelys can have looked choose.

Image by Nobu Tamura

As you deserve to view the plastron is practically similar to the one we see on contemporary, full shelled turtles, yet the top side, the carapace, is entirely lacking, however we have the right to check out that the form of the shell is tbelow.

In 2016 researchers have actually come out via a concept that tells us why turtles have progressed to have a shell. A few of the oldest turtle fossils suggest that turtles were not living in the water, rather they were land also pets that preferred to burrow. The theory argues that the bigger ribs would certainly provide a lot of stcapacity for the prehistoric turtles as they were digging.

Wider ribs carry out more stability for the trunk, and also that is perfect for digging. Similar wide ribs can additionally be observed in other animals that like to dig burrows, the ant eater for instance.

The difficulty via wide ribs is that they substantially reduce mobility. As a result, turtles are not able to relocate to quick. And this implies that the turtles were more delicate to predators. At this suggest the ribs started to fuse together forming the shell as we understand it. This readily available turtles even more security, and likewise allowed them to dig.

As turtles advanced they began spending a lot more time in the water, and also less time digging. But the shell continues to be there for the minute. It’s always possible that the form or the complace of the shell to change.

This is simply a concept. There are a lot of things that this concept doesn’t completely describe, yet at the moment it’s what we have the right to get via the amount of information that we have.

See more: How Do You Mount A Vizio Tv Wall Mount Screw Size S), (+Right Screw Sizes)

Here is a brief video that reflects turtles developed from normal “lizards” that had a normal ribcage to the shelled pets that we all know and love.