Turtles of the World: A Guide to Every Family

Princeton Univ. Dec. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780691223223. $29.95. REF
More than 60 percent of the world’s turtle species are either threatened or extinct; experts Lovich (Turtles of the United States and Canada) and Gibbons (Snakes of the Southeast) provide graphic proof of what we would lose in case of the complete extinction of turtles, these creatures of singular beauty and odd appeal who “plodded along beside dinosaurs.” The comprehensive introduction explores chelonian evolution and taxonomy, anatomy and physiology, behavior, feeding habits, reproduction, ecological and cultural importance, and conservation status. The synoptic material is framed around two suborders, hidden-necked and side-necked turtles, comprising 14 families and 95 genera. Each genus profile, averaging two pages in length, includes a population distribution map, a table of information (habitat, lifespan, size), and commentary that includes notable characteristics and discussion of related species. The trim size (larger than a field guide) suits the crisp layout and design; striking color photographs (mostly stock) are superbly curated to show subjects doing all manner of turtle things (e.g., basking en masse; oceanic deep-diving; lumbering across terrestrial habitats). Readers will be dazzled by the turtles’ splendid coloration, patterns, and shapes. The volume closes with a helpful glossary and index, a list of references, and a chart showing classificatory and phylogenetic details.
VERDICT Authoritative, visually compelling, and broadly accessible, this guide will please a broad swath of readers interested in turtles.
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