KINGDOM - Animalia

PHYLUM - Chordata

CLASS - Reptilia
Class Reptilia includes snakes, lizards, crocodiles, and turtles. Reptiles are ectothermic (cold-blooded) and are vertebrates (have a spine). All reptiles have scaly skin, breathe air with lungs, and have a three-chambered heart. Most reptiles lay eggs.

ORDER - Testudines
Order Testudines includes all turtles and tortoises. It is divided into three suborders. Pleurodira includes side-necked turtles, Cryptodira includes all other living species of turtles and tortoises, and Amphichelydia includes all extinct species.

SUBORDER - Cryptodira
Suborder Cryptodira includes freshwater turtles, snapping turtles, tortoises, soft-shelled turtles, and sea turtles.

FAMILY - Cheloniidae or Dermochelyidae
Sea turtles fall into one of two families. Family Cheloniidae includes sea turtles which have shells covered with scutes (horny plates). Family Dermochelyidae includes only one modern species of sea turtle, the leatherback turtle. Rather than a shell covered with scutes, leatherbacks have leathery skin.

GENUS and SPECIES
Most scientists currently recognize seven living species of sea turtles grouped into six genera.

GENUS

SPECIES

Common Name

Carapace Pattern

Caretta

caretta

loggerhead

Chelonia

mydas

green turtle

Eretmochelys

imbricata

hawksbill

Lepidochelys

kempii

Kemp's ridley

L.

olivaceaf

olive ridley

 

Natator

depressus

flatback

 

Dermochelys

coriacea

leatherback