Saturday, May 3, 2014
A different reptile
It is the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT), but we have already seen that the Croc Bank allows space to other orders, besides crocodilia, of the class reptilia. One more such order is testudines, which covers tortoises, turtles and terrapins. In fact when you get to the grounds of the Crocodile Bank, about 30km out of Chennai, the first exhibits you get to see are turtles and tortoises, before you see the stars of the show.
In between, the crocodilian hegemony is broken by these old boys. The Aldabra tortoises are among the longest living animals on the planet. Behind the Galapagos tortoises, these are the largest species of testudines. However, what species they are seems to be a source of intense debate. Aldabrachelys gigantea, says the Wikipedia page; Geochelone gigantea, says the Natural History Museum of the UK. Its history of Linnaean taxonomy begins with it being the Testudo gigantea. At least they have all agreed on the 'gigantea' bit!