|Hi, I'm a Western Painted Turtle - who are you? © SB|
Online images of Western Painted Turtles often show a tiny human hand holding an even tinier turtle.
But these guys were in the wild, far from hands and fingers, and looked about a foot long. (Sources say perhaps 10 inches; I had no ruler. They may be right.)
The scientific name for these beauties is Chrysemys picta bellii — chryso, from Greek for gold, and emys, for the same for freshwater tortoise. Picta? That's easy: Painted, or Latin for coloured.
And while I really wanted bellii to refer to these Western Painted Turtles' very bella bellies, I was surprised (or do I mean, disappointed?) to learn that instead of beautiful, bellii apparently refers instead to zoologist Thomas Bell, a collaborator of Charles Darwin's.
Hmm... I think I prefer my etymology... Or we could rename with a word merge:
Chrysemys picta bella belly bellii.
By any name, beautiful. But, like so much of life, only beautiful when you stop and look. First, you have to know that the turtles are there (and not carelessly destroy their habitat). Then, you have to look beyond their dull, sun-glazed upper shells to see the amazing markings of their skin and undersides.
|Group of Western Painted Turtles sunning on the west side|
of the water, Wascana Lake © SB
|Side view, Western Painted Turtle. © SB|
What are these? Western Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta bellii
Location: Wascana Marsh (the enclosed area, beside the lake), Regina, Saskatchewan.
Photo date: May 12, 2012.