The marginated tortoise is the largest European tortoise, reaching a
weight of up to 5 kg (11 pounds) and a length of 35 cm (14 inches).
Its shell is oblong and has a notable thickness around the middle of
the body. The posterior end of the shell has a saw-like formation,
flanged outward like a bell. The carapace of adult specimens is
almost completely black, with yellow highlights. The ventral shell is
lighter coloured and has pairs of triangular markings with the points
facing the rear of the animal. The front sides of the limbs are
covered with large scales. In old female specimens, the rear flaps of
the underside of the plastron are somewhat moveable. The tail is
notable for a lengthwise marking and for an undivided carapace over
the tail. Males have a longer tail, which is thicker at the base than
the females. Their underside is more strongly indented. Males are
also often larger than the females. The females lay their
hard-shelled spherical eggs in the soil in May and June.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
1674 Father Jacques Marquette founded a mission on the shores of Lake
Michigan to minister to the Illinois Indians (the mission later
grew into Chicago, Illinois).
1829 In the face of fierce opposition, British Lord William Bentinck
carried a regulation declaring that all who abetted suttee in
India were guilty of culpable homicide.
1952 Great Smog of 1952: A "killer fog" descended on London ("Smog"
for "smoke" and "fog" became a word).
1991 Pan Am Airways ended operations.
Wikiquote of the day:
"The free expression of the hopes and aspirations of a people is
the greatest and only safety in a sane society." ~ Emma Goldman