Green sea turtle hatchlings floating on water

Turtles, terrapins and tortoises

Turtles, terrapins and tortoises are all in one order, called the Testudines. They all have a shell, though only certain species can withdraw their lead and limbs into it. All the many types of turtle, terrapin and tortoise lay eggs. In some, the temperature at which the egg incubates will decide whether the embryo becomes male or female.

Scientific name: Testudines

Rank: Order

Common names:

  • Chelonians,
  • Testudinata

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Map showing the distribution of the Turtles, terrapins and tortoises taxa

The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

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When they lived

Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Reptiles
  5. Turtles, terrapins and tortoises

Video collections

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