Alas, this poor fellow remains unidentified. Jean-Charles Chenu (1808-1879) tagged him with “Squellette de Chelonee caouane.” Squellette is French for skeleton. The rest has stumped Google translate and even French Wikipedia. Oh well. However, I don’t think anyone looking for a vintage turtle skeleton would mind too much if they didn’t know the species name.
A lot of species names have been changed since 1856. And sadly, a lot of plants and animals have gone extinct. Hopefully, this turtle now goes by another name.
Chenu was a French physician and naturalist. He wrote numerous works on nature and the world around us. Our skeleton comes from Encyclopedie d’histoire naturelle, Reptiles et Poissons published in 1856. Reptiles and fish; including quite a few turtles and lizards too.
Turtle skeletons, like this one, often show the turtle’s underside. We see the ridges in their shell and the bones in the legs, neck and head; even their little tails. Every time I see one of these vintage turtle skeleton drawings, I’m amazed at how long their toes are. When they are alive, they hardly ever seem that long. Do they?
Well, hopefully, out little reptile friend lived a nice long life. You can extend his 15 minutes (or is it 162 years) of fame by including him in your own project. Download the image shown here or grab the largest version while you’re here. Just click on him to access it.
This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.