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The MOST, Syracuse NY (map)
"Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins: What Makes These Creatures So Amazing and Why They Need Our Help"

Speaker: James P. Gibbs, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Director, Roosevelt Wild Life Station; and Adjunct Scientist, Galapagos Conservancy

Talk Overview: Turtles are amazing creatures. They occur in many shapes and sizes, and occupy a variety of habitats (freshwater, deserts, and the ocean) around the world (except the Arctic and Antarctic). All are reptiles and members of the Testudines or turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. Their shell, a complicated and living structure of bones, living tissues and keratin like your fingernails, is what makes them distinct from other animals. And the shell has served them well! Turtles are one of the oldest groups of vertebrate animals in the world –dating back to the time of the dinosaurs, over 200 million years ago, and changing little since then. Not only that, but the protection shell enables turtles today to live for almost 200 years in some species. These animals do important things in the environment, eating plants, insects and even jellyfish, shaping the world around them in some cases. But they are also among the most imperiled groups of animals on the planet -- about half of the 320 species of turtles today are endangered in some form. The biggest problems and habitat loss, road mortality, poaching and the illegal pet trade. During this TACNY Jr. Café Scientifique, we will learn about these magnificent creatures in detail, examine some turtle specimens together, and learn about two exciting efforts to help turtles – one in the Galapagos with Giant Tortoises and one in the Amazon with Yellow-spotted River Turtles.

Biography: James Gibbs is currently Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse, New York and Adjunct Scientist with the Galapagos Conservancy. He teaches courses each year in conservation biology and herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians). James lives and works in urban Syracuse but travels the world studying and saving turtles and other endangered species. He spends a lot of time in the Galapagos Islands where he helps lead a project to restore the giant tortoise population there and in Brazil helping giant river turtles recover in the Amazon.



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