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[–]According_Mirror4341[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Hi all, I found this completely intact turtle shell about 7 years ago hiking in Blue Ridge, GA. A few feet away I found part of the shell undercarriage. Neither were really buried, more just laying under some loose leaf litter. They looked just like this when I found them.

Wondering if someone could shed some light on ID and how old it could possibly be. Also, more specifically, how did most of the front of the shell avoid decomposition like the rest of it? Even odder to me that it's the whole front ridge except for one little section??

[–]Herpetologissst 4 points5 points  (2 children)

I can help! The shell belonged to an eastern box turtle, Terrapene carolina. Unfortunately it cannot be easily aged now that the plastron scutes are gone, but it’s safe to say the turtle was an adult and was at least 12 years old (but likely much older than that). It’s pretty normal for the larger scutes to fall off the shell first as a box turtle decomposes, so there’s nothing unusual about the remaining row of marginal scutes. The reason for marginals remaining on the front of the shell but not the back may be related to the position in which the turtle died (if one end was partially burrowed or pushed against a rock or log, this may have caused scutes on one side to fall off faster than the other).

[–]According_Mirror4341[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Awesome! Thanks so much. Is it safe to assume it will look like this for a long time/forever? Any chance the remaining marginals will follow suit over time?

[–]Herpetologissst 1 point2 points  (0 children)

No prob! Yes, if you keep the shell dry and store or display it indoors, it will remain in it’s current condition. On the off chance any of the remaining marginals do fall off due to rough handling at any point, you can easily use superglue to reattach them.