Leatherback Sea Turtle

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BACKGROUND OF LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE Leatherback sea turtle is named for its unique shell which is composed of a layer of thin, tough, rubbery skin, strengthened by thousands of tiny bone plates that make it look “leathery”. Its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh. Earlier classifications were based almost solely on structure and morphology of the skull, shell, and appendages. Turtles have historically been classified as reptiles, along with crocodilians, snakes, and lizards. DNA analyses during the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century supported their recognition as a distinct line of vertebrate animals. Most authorities accept that the ancestors of birds and crocodilians were more closely related to one another…show more content…
Next, limbs are flipper adapted for swimming. Leatherback Sea turtles are awkward and vulnerable on land. Forelimbs are long and paddle-like (long digits are fused throughout the flipper, only one or two claws are present on each fore flipper and a leatherback sea turtle swims with powerful wing-like beats of its fore flipper). Hind flipper serves as rudders, stabilizing and directing the animal as it swims. The hind flipper of some species is quite dexterous at digging nests in the sand. A leatherback sea turtle cannot retract its limbs under its shell as a land turtle can. It cannot retract its head into its shell as a land turtle can. It has large upper eyelids that protect their eyes. Leatherback Sea turtles do not have an external ear opening. Like other turtles, leatherback sea turtles lack teeth. It has a jaw shape adapted for its diet. The dorsal (top) side of the shell is called the carapace. The ventral (bottom) side of the shell is called the plastron. The leatherback turtle has a thick and oil-suffused skin, which is an excellent insulator, allowing this species to venture into the cold water. The leatherback’s carapace is composed largely of cartilage raised into prominent longitudinal ridges. A layer of thousands of small dermal bones lies just below the leathery skin. A sea turtle’s large, bony shell provides protection from predation and

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