Rant about the design of a tortoise

TortyDxb

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My brother and I were watching the two baby Aldabras, in my care, work their way around a large garden, today, and we got to chatting about their (terrible) design.

How tortoises have survived extinction en masse is beyond me.

Not only can they be outpaced by nearly every possible predator there is, but they can be quite literally, picked up and held to be eaten without any fight at all.

There is no defense mechanism. Not even the shell is helpful.

The hard shell only guarantees a more slow and painful (extremely painful) death for the tortoise in fact. The predator, such as a racoon, cannot do a quick kill.... oh no... it has to work its way in. Awful.

Today we found one of the Aldabras flipped on her back. Can't have been more than twenty minutes she was like that, but she had all but given up trying to right herself. What sort of natural selection allows this nonsense to perpetuate?

We discussed what would happen to her had we not been there to turn her back over. A predator slowly pickin away at her while she lies there helpless? death by a slow suffocation as her intestines crush her lungs? perhaps being cooked alive by the sun?

We aren't all tortoise lovers here, we are a group of people in shock at how truly helpless these things are! it is outrageous they can be so vulnerable.
 

WithLisa

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They move slowly and are well camouflaged, coldblooded and don't have a strong smell, so predators can't find them easily. They can survive pretty deep falls, being kicked or stepped at. They can brave the weather in almost all its forms, starvation,... And I don't know about Aldabras, but Hermanns can right themselves very fast in a suitable environment.

Tortoises are the least vulnerable pets I ever had. If I would abandon all my pets in the garden, the rodents and birds would maybe survive a few days, the cats a few weeks and the torts probably a few years even though it's not a mediterranean climate (they would probably be killed by lawnmowers sooner or later).
 

wellington

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I agree that they are a bad design. Specially the shape. My Russian is the only one that can right himself. The higher domed torts seem to have a much harder time righting themselves.
Most of the deaths in the wild are probably slow and torturous.
 

Big Charlie

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My tortoise is too big for most predators. He hasn't flipped in 15 years or more. If we died and he was left in the yard to fend for himself, he would probably do fine, as long as he used his nightbox on cold nights. He probably wouldn't even notice we were gone. He has plenty to eat in the yard. With the automatic sprinklers working, he would never run out of food.

I think your problem was that you were looking at babies. Babies of nearly any species are always at greater risk.
 

Markw84

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Tortoises are extremely well designed!! You are imposing a very different survival strategy on your appraisal. But tortoises have taken on another strategy for survival that is not in line with your thinking...

They have been out-competed, so they have been left to inhabit very marginally habitable environments where the others that would threaten them cannot exist. Instead of a design to outrun or outbattle, they have adapted to outsurvive harsh conditions.

Their shape is the best adaptation for optimum use of stable ground temperatures to mitigate the extreme daily temperatures they might experience. For their volume, they have maximum ground contact when at rest. They can maximize this even further in a burrow and even a shallow scrape.

They can be stepped on and chewed on and survive easily. The shape of the shell is strongest for its size. The overlapping scutes and bone structure is the strongest possible combination. The dome of the shell is a shape the Romans finally found and copied for its strength.

They can shut down and survive for months if conditions get harsh, while all the other "better designed" animals will die. When conditions improve, they emerge and the predators and competitors are gone!
 

enchilada

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But some extinct subspecies of Galapagos and Aldabra proves that “saddleback” shaped shell is a horrible design compare to doom shaped shell when facing greedy humans , because it’s easier to carry
 

domalle

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My brother and I were watching the two baby Aldabras, in my care, work their way around a large garden, today, and we got to chatting about their (terrible) design.

How tortoises have survived extinction en masse is beyond me.

Not only can they be outpaced by nearly every possible predator there is, but they can be quite literally, picked up and held to be eaten without any fight at all.

There is no defense mechanism. Not even the shell is helpful.

The hard shell only guarantees a more slow and painful (extremely painful) death for the tortoise in fact. The predator, such as a racoon, cannot do a quick kill.... oh no... it has to work its way in. Awful.

Today we found one of the Aldabras flipped on her back. Can't have been more than twenty minutes she was like that, but she had all but given up trying to right herself. What sort of natural selection allows this nonsense to perpetuate?

We discussed what would happen to her had we not been there to turn her back over. A predator slowly pickin away at her while she lies there helpless? death by a slow suffocation as her intestines crush her lungs? perhaps being cooked alive by the sun?

We aren't all tortoise lovers here, we are a group of people in shock at how truly helpless these things are! it is outrageous they can be so vulnerable.

By any chance, have you ever noticed any vulnerability or helplessness in a human baby?
I suspect you are being intentionally provocative.
 

TammyJ

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They, and all of us, and everything that lives and breathes, are still evolving. So far I would say they have done marvellously!
That is, despite the forces of nature and the foolishness of human beings.
 

WithLisa

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By any chance, have you ever noticed any vulnerability or helplessness in a human baby?
So true! Every time I see a human baby I can't help but think it's a failure of evolution. :confused: Even chimpanzee babies are not that helpless!
Baby torts might be vulnerable, but they are completely independent right out of the egg. The pride of creation! :D
 

domalle

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They move slowly and are well camouflaged, coldblooded and don't have a strong smell, so predators can't find them easily. They can survive pretty deep falls, being kicked or stepped at. They can brave the weather in almost all its forms, starvation,... And I don't know about Aldabras, but Hermanns can right themselves very fast in a suitable environment.

Tortoises are the least vulnerable pets I ever had. If I would abandon all my pets in the garden, the rodents and birds would maybe survive a few days, the cats a few weeks and the torts probably a few years even though it's not a mediterranean climate (they would probably be killed by lawnmowers sooner or later).

Have to differ with you about the cats. They would just move in with your neighbors.
 

Reptilian Feline

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The design is flawed, but most designs are one way or the other. That's why there are so many many designs! Babies are always vulnerable, and that's why torts have so many... every year or so... at least a few will make it to adulthood.
 
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