SCIENCE GOES WILD PART 13 - TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
By Alex Wiggan (and Ryan the work experience lad)
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the thirteenth chapter of Science Goes Wild and you’ve not lost the will to live. This truly is a momentous occasion. You’ve also reached the final part of the Animal Magic section of our journey of science; but fear not our epic encounter with superheroes and wildlife is far from over so make sure that you return next week for the fourteenth chapter! Anyway back to this week and we’re currently sat in St. Anne’s Square, Manchester grabbing a bite to eat at McDonald’s. This has no relation to the focus of this week’s chapter, but hey we’ve got to eat so don’t bitch about it to us. As for what we’re looking at this week, it’s the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
WHO ARE THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES?
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are four ass-kicking humanoid turtles (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael) created in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or TMNT for short) first appeared in the comic-book series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was originally published by Mirage Studios. They have no real super powers to speak of, however they are experienced in numerous forms of martial arts and each Turtle carries his own weapon (Leo carries two Japanese swords, called katana; Don has a bow staff; Raph has a set of Sais and Mikey has two nunchucks).
ARE THEY ACTUAL TURTLES?
Yes they are indeed. The Turtles started their lives as ordinary pet turtles, but upon coming into contact with a strange ooze-like mutagen, they quickly transformed in walking, talking humanoid turtles. Outside of comic-books this tends not to happen to most turtles.
OH. SO TELL ME, WHAT MAKES NON-MUTATED TURTLES SO SPECIAL?
Turtles are from the order Testudines; they’re reptiles and are cold blooded, which means their body temperature relies on the temperature of the environment around them. The earliest known turtle dates back to around 215 million years ago, but sadly many species of turtle are endangered today and so if we want to keep them around for another 215 million years, we’d best look after them a bit better! There are two different types of turtle; those that can draw their necks in (which are called Cryptodira); and those that move their necks from one side to the other (known as Pleurodia). Turtles breathe air, but there are many species of turtle that live in or around water and the most common distinctive feature that a turtle has, that you’re probably familiar with, is their shells. These come in different shapes, sizes and colours, but what you might not be aware of is that the shell doesn’t just cover the top of the turtle, it covers the underneath of the turtle as well.
Yep! The upper part is what’s known as the carapace, whereas the lower section is called the plastron. Oh and did you know, that as well as acting as a shield from predators the shell’s inner layer is made up of 60 bones?!
It is! What it also means is that the size of the shell can often restrict the movement of a turtle, which is why they’re often seen as being slow. Well, let’s be honest, if you had a big shell attached to your back, you’d be bloody slow too!
VERY TRUE. NOW AM I RIGHT IN THINKING THAT PEOPLE OFTEN CONFUSE TURTLES WITH TORTOISES?
They do indeed. Sometimes the use of the term ‘turtle’ gets mixed up with the term terrapin, tortoise and sea turtle and it seems that the confusion depends upon whereabouts in the world you live. There are of course distinctions between the different species, however it might be easier to refer to them by the collective name used by men (and women) of science, which is ‘Chelonian’. This basically refers to all of types of turtle/tortoise/terrapin/sea turtle that fall under the superorder Chelonia, which fall into the order of Testudines (as mentioned earlier). The largest ever Chelonian was a Late Cretaceous sea turtle that clocked in at 15ft long, whilst the smallest is the speckled padloper tortoise, which is 3 inches long. Other interesting facts that you might like to know are… turtles have good night vision, they have webbed feet and long claws.
SO HOW ALIKE ARE TURTLES AND THE TURTLES?
Well… apart from the walking, talking, thing, oh and the ninja skills, the Turtles and turtles are actually quite alike. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are after all just turtles that were mutated and so they share similarities, but that said I’m not exactly sure that ordinary, non-mutated turtles would ever want to become expert crime-fighting superheroes!
Well as previously mentioned, turtles are in danger of being killed off if we’re not careful and some people eat turtle soup, so in all honesty turtles probably hate humanity.
SO WHAT YOU’RE SAYING IS IT’S NOT VERY LIKELY THAT A TURTLE WOULD BECOME A SUPERHERO.
That’s right! You've probably got more chance of seeing me crap rainbows!
Well that’s all from us this week, but in the next gripping instalment we look at The Truth About Cats And Dogs!!