What The Inside Of A Turtle’s Shell Looks Like

When you look at a turtle you hardly think of them as being one of nature’s mysteries, however, after being around for 157 million years, their bone structure continues to be a source of intrigue. Turtles are the only animal to be able to grow a shell from bone, and this fact has led the species to evolve quite the strange-looking spinal cord.

Photo: Pixabay/tracyhammond

In fact, they’re the only shelled animal that cannot entirely remove themselves from their shells – all because their shells are part of their bone structure.

These naturally shy creatures truly have some incredible and intriguing secrets hidden within their shells.

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I’ll still be out of the shop for most of this month working on this big project, so here is a repost of one of my paintings from a couple years back! Ink and watercolor on Stonehenge paper, this is The Anatomical Dissection of a Red Eared Terrapin. I would love to redesign this image for a tattoo, in color or black work, your choice! This would need to be at least 6 inches tall, so email or dm me if you are interested! . . . . . #turtleillustration #tattoodesign #stonehengepaper #turtletattoo #scientificillustration #anatomicalillustration #pointillism #dotwork #watercolorpainting #watercolor #femaletattooer #femaletattooartist #ladytattooer #ladytattooers #phillytattoo #phillytattooartist #wilmingtontattoo #anatomicalart #scienceart #anatomydrawing #turtleanatomy

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In fact, if you were to look within their shells, you’d notice that they actually have a lot of space within the central cavity. And it’s not just empty space within that cavity, it’s actually where their internal organs are located – and they’re pretty well-packed into it too.

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The turtle shell also contains both the turtle’s spinal cord as well as their rib cage.


And as it turns out, this is why a turtle has the capacity to retract their heads into their shells.

Nature is truly incredible.


So, next time you see a turtle, you will know more about their anatomy. They’re not just “slow and steady” they’re also built like little tanks.

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