Turtles are reptiles of the order Chelonia or Testudines. They are characterized by a bony or cartilaginous shell or carapace, developed from their ribs, that acts as a shield. Testudines include both extant (living) and extinct species. Its earliest known members date from the Middle Jurassic. They are one of the oldest reptile groups, more ancient than snakes or crocodilians.
Turtles have appeared in myths and folktales around the world. Some terrestrial and freshwater species are widely kept as pets. Turtles have been hunted for their meat, for use in traditional medicine, and for their carapaces. Marine turtles are often killed accidentally as bycatch in fishing nets. Turtle habitats around the world are being destroyed.
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