OF CHELONIAN TERMINOLOGY
- ADAPTION - Morphological or
behavioral modifications evolved over a period in response to environment or mode of
- AESTIVATE - Summer or dry
season dormancy. Not to be confused
- ALLANTOIS -
surrounding an embryo.
Assists with respiration and waste management.
- AMNION - A fluid filed sac enclosing
- ANAL - Pertaining to the anal region; e.g.,
the anal suture of the plastron.
- ANOXIA - Lack of oxygen. Suffocation.
- ANTERIOR - Towards the front or
- AQUATIC - Living in water.
- AREOLA - The central region
of the scute. May be marked or raised.
- BASKING - Behavior designed
to gain maximum absorption of heat from the sun. Often
- BEAK - The horny outer covering of
- BIMODALITY -
The term used to describe non-simultaneous hatching.
- BIOCLIMATIC RANGE - The forces of
temperature and humidity, among other factors, which influence
- BODY TEMPERATURE - The interior rather than exterior
surface temperature of the body. Usually
- CARAPACE -
bony upper shell of the tortoise or turtle.
- CARNIVORE -
An animal which eats
the flesh of other animals. Not common in tortoises but
frequent in freshwater
turtles. e.g., Snapping
- CAUDAL - Pertaining to the tail
- CHARACTER -
- CHELONIAN -
A shield reptile. Tortoises, turtles and terrapins.
- CLINE -
A gradual morphological
variation within a species from one part of its range to another.
- CLOACA - The chamber and vent in the
- CLUTCH - The collective term
for all the eggs laid by a female at one
- CLUTCH DENSITY - The number of eggs in a single clutch.
- CONTIGUOUS - A sequential or unbroken series or distribution.
- COPROPHAGOUS - Dung or faeces
- COSTAL -
The series of plates
located at the side
and middle of a chelonians shell between
the vertebrals and marginals.
- CRANIAL - Pertaining to the skull.
- CUTANEOUS - Of or pertaining to the
- DIMORPHISM - Two distinct forms
within a species. Sexual dimorphism is
the existence of
morphological divergence between male and female.
- DIURNAL - Active during the day.
- DORSAL - Pertaining to the upper
- DYSTOCIA - See egg-binding.
- ESD - Acronym for Environmental Sex
- ECOSYSTEM - The natural symmetry between organisms and their
- ECTOPARASITE -
that lives outside the body or on its surface.
- ECTOTHERM - An organism which mainly
relies upon environmental sources to
sustain its body temperature.
- EGG BINDING - A condition
which occurs in female tortoises involving
difficulty in laying eggs (Dystocia).
- EGG CARUNCLE - A small
projection on the beak of hatchlings used for the purposes of piercing the egg.
- EGG TOOTH - See egg caruncle.
- ENDEMIC -
Zoogeographically restricted species, race or form.
- ENDOPARASITE - An internal parasite,
e.g., a 'worm'.
- ENDOTHERM - An animal which
self-generates heat by metabolic action, e. g., a
- ESTIVATE - See aestivate.
- EXOTHERM - See ectotherm.
- FSL - Acronym for Full Spectrum Lighting, 'artificial sunlight'.
- FAMILY -
The taxonomic category below Order and above Genus.
- FAUNA - The animal life of a
- FENESTRATED - Pierced. With
gaps or holes.
- FORM - A population or 'variety';
not necessarily deserving of separate systematic recognition
but also sometimes denoting a true species or subspecies.
- GENETIC - Pertaining to genes and
- GENUS -
The taxonomic category below Family and above Species.
Contains one or more species.
- GESTATION - In tortoises, the
period between fertilization of an egg
- GREGARIOUS - Tending to congregate
- GULAR - Pertaining to the throat
region; in tortoises usually refers to the plastral scutes below the
- GUT - The alimentary canal,
especially the intestine.
- HABITAT - The environment in which
an animal lives.
- HATCHLING - The young animal just
after it leaves the egg; any juvenile phase tortoise to about 6 months.
- HEPATIC - Pertaining to the liver.
- HERBIVORE - An animal which eats
plants rather than other animals. A
- HERPETOLOGY -
and study of
- HIBERNATION - Winter dormancy
characterised by specific biological and
including lowered blood pressure and respiration rate.
- HINGE - A mobile suture; as seen in
Box Turtles or Hinge-back tortoises which allows part of the shell to
- HOMOGENOUS -
A relatively intact
distribution of genetic material within a
diversity from one locality to another within the range.
- HYBRID - An individual resulting
from a mating of parents which are not genetically
identical, e.g., those that belong to different species.
- INCUBATION - The developmental phase
of an egg prior to hatching which
- INFRARED -
Invisible heat rays
beyond the visible light spectrum.
- INTERGRADE - A hybrid form.
- INTRODUCED - A species not native to
a region but which now occur there as a result of artificial
or escapes from captivity etc.
- INTROFLEXED - Turned inwards.
- JUVENILE - Not sexually mature.
- KEEL - A ridge sometimes seen in the
vertebral region of the carapace.
- KERATIN - A tough fibrous protein
present in epidermal structures such as
carapace shields, beaks and claws.
- KINESIS -
Mobile. As in a box turtle or Hinge-back shell.
- LATERAL - Pertaining to the side.
- MARGINAL -
of smaller scutes at the very edge of the carapace. Usually
11 on each side in most species.
- MELANISTIC - Darker or blacker than
- MESIC - An intermediate humidity
- METABOLIC RATE
rate of energy expenditure by an organism.
- METABOLISM -
The chemical or energy
changes which occur within an animal
- MICROCLIMATE -
The climate immediately surrounding an
differ profoundly from the general climate
in the case of burrowing
- MORPHOLOGY - Pertaining to shape and
- MORPHOMETRY - The technique
of measuring and
e.g., the shape of a turtle shell.
- MYELITIS - Tissue destruction due to
- NARES - Paired openings of the nasal
- NASAL - Pertaining to the nose or
- NOCTURNAL - Active at night.
- NUCHAL - A small scute at
the front of the carapace, above the head.
- OEDEMA - Fluid retention. Can
signify renal disease or bruising. Any
- OMNIVORE -
An animal which feeds on
both plant and animal tissue.
- OPTIC - Pertaining to the eyes.
- OSTEOLOGICAL - Pertaining to the bones and their structure.
- OVIPOSITION - The act of egg laying.
- P.O. - Preferred Optimum.
- PARENTERAL - Via injection.
- PHENETIC -
Apparent similarity on
the basis of external
- PHYLOGENY - Pertaining to
- PLASTRON - The lower surface of the
- POIKILOTHERM - See ectotherm.
- POPULATION -
of the same
species living in a
discreet geographical area.
- POSTERIOR - The rear or back part.
- RACE - A population of a species
distinguishable from the rest of that
species. A subspecies.
- RADIAL - Like the spokes of a wheel.
- RENAL - Pertaining to the kidneys.
- SAVANNAH -
of open plains and low grassy vegetation.
SCL - Acronym for
Straight Carapace Length (not
- SCUTE - The horny plates of a
- SERRATED - Jagged or saw-like.
- SUBSPECIES -
A subdivision of a
single species given a
unique name which is expressed
after the generic and species name. See race.
- SUBSTRATE -
In herpetology, usually refers to vivarium flooring
- SUPRA - Pertaining to above.
- SUPRACAUDAL - The scute above the
'seams' between two boney or horny plates.
- SYMPATRIC - Living in the same
- SYNONYM -
One of several different
names applied to an identical
taxonomic category only one of which is
valid. The invalid names only are called synonyms. The valid name is selected by priority.
- SYSTEMIC - Whole body
treatment. Not topical.
Usually by injection.
- TAXON -
category, e.g a Family, Genus or Species.
- TAXONOMY - The science of
- TEMPERATE - Latitudes where summer
and winter seasons are experienced.
- TERRAPIN - Fresh water aquatic chelonians.
- TERRESTRIAL - Living on the
ground. Not Aquatic.
- TOPICALLY - Pertaining to surface
- TORTOISE - Terrestrial chelonians.
- TROPICAL -
Pertaining to equatorial
regions where winter and summer seasons
are not experienced.
- TUBERCLE - The 'spur' on tortoises’
- TURTLE -
Semi-terrestrial chelonians and marine chelonians.
Sometimes applied interchangeably with 'tortoise'.
- TYMPANITIC - Pertaining to the ear.
- TYPE - The original specimen upon which a species is erected.
- TYPE LOCALITY - The place
where the Type was collected or originated.
- VENTRAL - Pertaining to the
- VERTEBRAL - Pertaining to the spinal
region. The central row of scutes along
the top of the carapace.
- VIVARIUM -
artificial environment containing animals.
Chelonian Educational Resources Ltd. 1990-2002