Diamondback Terrapins by Mary Syrett
For many Tidewater residents, including particularly followers of University of Maryland at College Park athletic teams, turtles possess an almost mythical status. The terms ‘turtle,’ ‘tortoise’ and ‘terrapin’ belong to one common order, the Chelonia. For many observers, ‘turtle’ describes chelonians that are aquatic or semi-aquatic. The term ‘tortoise’ describes a chelonian that lives primarily on land.
The word ‘terrapin’ is derived from the Algonquin Indian word ‘torope’ and is used to refer to a variety of North American turtle that belongs to the family Emydiolae. Turtles have been around for 200+ million years. They evolved before mammals, birds, crocodiles, snakes and even lizards. The earliest turtles had teeth and could not retract their heads; other than this, modern turtles are quite similar to
The diamondback terrapin is a uniquely beautiful creature. 53