Weekly Puzzler Answer #140

First off, happy weekend to you all! And congratulations to Arden whose name was drawn for the free puzzler prize giveaway. I will be doing another contest again in the near future.

pu-5561So did you know that the ridged-rectangle in last week’s puzzler was from a scute from an Eastern Box Turtle? Have you ever looked closely at the shell of a box turtle? The top, curved part of the shell is called the carapace. The bottom is called the plastron. Both are covered with scutes– bony plates that are made of beta-keratin, the same substance that is in bird feathers and beaks, reptile claws, porcupine quills and human finger nails.

Eastern box turtle scutes can be incredibly attractive, as one of my subscribers noticed, saying she would like to use it for a piece of jewelry. The color varies according to each individual, but all are attractive with their yellow and black design.

The top of the shell is called the carapace

The top of the shell is called the carapace


The bottom part of the turtle’s shell is called the plastron.

If you look closely at one you will notice it most likely has ridges on it–a bunch of lines that radiate out from the center, around the entire scute. These are a bit like the rings of a tree–each year it adds a new one. However, in the case of the turtles, this isn’t necessarily an accurate assessment of age, since turtles can live for MANY years. An average Eastern Box Turtle lives 50 years! And some can live over 100 years! So as you can imagine, fitting 50 or 75+ rings on that small scute is not going to be easy. Box turtles have 38 scutes on the carapaces and 12-16 on the plastrons.

So both Tennessee and North Carolina have designated the Eastern Box Turtle as their state reptile. Do you know if your state has an official state reptile?

Know how to tell the sex of a box turtle? I did this as a puzzler way back at week #9. Wow, that was a long time ago! I suspect very few of my subscribers have been with me since then. If you have, I’d love to know it! Use the comment box below to drop me a line! Also, want to test your knowledge about box turtles? Then check out this post featuring 10 things you may not know.

Click here to check out the next puzzler–another one about turtles.

See you again soon!

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