Skull of Loggerhead Turtle
Species: C. caretta
The head of the loggerhead is relatively large, wide posteriorly, and the snout tapers anterior to the orbits. The parietal notches (wide U-shaped emarginations formed by the posterior borders of the squamosal, parietal and spraoccipital bones) are large. The jaws are robust and shaped like a wide V. Loggerheads have a relatively long secondary palate. The secondary palate is the shelf of bone that seperate or partialy seperates food and air passages. The palate lacks alveolar ridges and the two maxillary bones contact one another posterior to the pre maxillary bones.
About the animal
The loggerhead is one of the most widespread of all the marine turtles and also the most highly migratory, with individuals known to cross the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This turtle’s common name comes from its relatively large head, which contains powerful jaws. The carapace of the adult turtle is a reddish-brown colour, whilst the underneath (or plastron) is more yellow in appearance. Adults are primarily carnivorous, using their powerful jaws to crack open crustaceans such as crabs and even seemingly impenetrable molluscs such as the queen conch and giant clam. Loggerheads may reach sexual maturity at around 35 years old, and females appear to nest an average of three to five times in one breeding season, returning to breed every couple of years. Nesting occurs at night throughout the summer; females drag themselves out onto beaches beyond the high-tide mark and dig nests (around 40 centimetres deep) into which around 100 eggs are laid. Hatchlings and small juveniles appear to spend some time in pelagic environments, often drifting amongst rafts of sargassum (brown algae) and/or flotsam in the open ocean before migrating to benthic habitats in shallower, coastal waters.
David P. Badge, Lizards, MBI publishing Company, USA, 2006.