Nature has blessed each species with unique features which provide them protection from predatory animals. Similar is the case with the turtles, they are blessed with a hard shell called a carapace which provides them with an excellent defense for millions of years. The question here is what makes the shell of a turtle so hard. Let’s figure this out!
How Hard is a Turtle Shell?
The carapace of the turtles provides them enough strength to withstand immense force on it. The shell of the turtles is extremely hard and it can hold thousands of pounds of pressure. It has been estimated that the fracture toughness of the turtle shell measures about 36.4MPA m1/2.
Which Turtles Have the Hardest Shell?
The hardness of the turtle shell varies from species to species. It has been observed that the freshwater turtles such as red-eared sliders have hard shells whereas the shell of freshwater species such as green sea turtles is softer.
What Makes the Shell of the Turtle Hard?
The turtle”s shell is made up of a keratin protein. Entirely, the shell has 2 parts, the upper portion is named a carapace and the underside part is a plastron, which is assembled strongly by keratin plates or scutes, which protect the shell. Further, the shell has connected bones that fuse with the rib cage and spines, making the shell of the turtle tough.
How Much Weight Can a Turtle Shell Hold?
Well, the shell of the turtle is very hard and cannot break easily. The strength of the shell depends upon the size of the shell, the larger the carapace, the harder the shell would be. Further, a turtle shell can hold 200 times its weight which is not easy to break.
How to Break the Turtle’s Shell?
The shell of the turtles is made up of bones and soft tissues which are broken down by large predatory animals such as alligators, crocodiles, honey badgers, whales, sharks, or birds. Interestingly, the shell can also be broken down by a bullet, which can easily penetrate through the shell and causes severe injuries. Other than that, pyramiding, malnutrition, no exposure to sunlight, and poor water quality, are some of the factors which also contribute to the breakage of the shell.
What Happens if Turtles Lose its Shell?
The shells of the turtles are meant to provide them protection from predatory animals, so if they lose their shell, it makes them highly vulnerable. Further, the shell allows them to swim, without a shell, they will probably sink. The shell provides calcium to the bones, without a shell the turtles will slowly begin to deteriorate.
The shell of the turtle is strong enough that it can withstand thousands of pounds of pressure and even 200 times its weight without breakage. The shell is made of keratin protein which strengthens the carapace and plastrons. However, predatory animals such as alligators, crocodiles, sharks, and even bullets can easily break the shell.