Testudines 

I am a huge fan of the order Testudines, the turtles!  I’m interested in everything from their biological architecture to their nearly incomparably long lifespans, their reproductive behaviors, habitats, migratory routes, and pretty much every other quirky and fascinating characteristic of our armored reptilian friends.  I feel so privileged that everyday I have the opportunity to sit at a bookshelf underneath the skull of a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), which was collected in the 1940’s off of the coast of North Carolina.  For size comparison I included a box turtle species on the left (Terrapene carolina) and a painted turtle species (Chrysemys picta) on the right.  

Loggerheads are fascinating for a number of reasons, one being they are the largest hard-shelled turtle species on the planet. They weigh on average between 250lbs-300lbs (130kg) with some of the largest individuals reaching over 1,000lbs and living up to 67 years.  The earliest they reach sexual maturity is at 17 years old!  They are considered a threatened, endangered, and protected species under many different conservation acts as their oceanic habitats are frequently disrupted by commercial fishing and pollution.  Check out the NOAA page on loggerheads to learn more about their habitats, biology, and conservation efforts!