I don’t know about you but i’ve never distinguished between turtles and tortoises. Frankly, I don’t even remember using the word “tortoise” myself. Well, up until now that is because from now on, all of us useless info junkies will be able to correct all those who call every turtlelike animal “turtle”.
The thing is that all tortoises are turtles but not all turtles are tortoises. Yes, they all belong to the Order Chelonia (from the greek word for turtle, χελώνα) but there is one very distinct difference between the two.
Here’s how it goes. (the article continues after the ad)
Tortoises are land creatures – they are exclusively adapted for living on land. They might live in a variety of climates, from deserts to rainforests, but other than drinking it, they don’t have much to do with water.
On the other hand, turtles live in water – they are adapted to aquatic life. There are aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles as well as varieties that live in salt water and others that live in fresh water but that’s a matter for another day.
So yes, if we were to be more specific with naming, we would have called them Teenage Mutant Ninja Tortoises and not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But, as stated above, since all tortoises are turtles, the cartoon is technically right.
There are of course some more differences between tortoises and turtles in regards to the shape and weight of their shell, their limbs, diet and more, but we’re not getting into that. It’s getting too geeky after a point.
BONUS FACT: Tortoises are vegetarians, while other turtles are omnivorous.
BONUS BONUS FACT: Most languages don’t have a separate word for turtle and tortoise.