Science Says

Science Says

Native to the southwestern United States and Mexico, the Desert Tortoise has lived in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah deserts for over 220 million years. There are two species separated by the Colorado River, the Sonoran Desert Tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) who lives south and the Mojave Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) who lives north of the Colorado Rover, respectively.


Recently, their populations have plummeted 90% as a result if human activities. Direct causes include collection for “pets”, military activities, off-road and on road vehicle death, and trampling. Indirect cause of death and injury include habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation by urbanization, military development, and ranching practices.


Next Issue: One of the key themes of The Tutortoise  is science’s open recognition that reptiles share with humans, other mammals, and birds, comparable structures and functions of the brain that govern thinking, feelings, and consciousness.


Learn More

Rhodin, A.G.J., Walde, A.D., Horne, B.D., van Dijk, P.P., Blanck, T., and Hudson, R. (Eds.). 2011. Turtles in Trouble: The World’s 25+ Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles—2011. Lunenburg, MA: IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, Turtle Conservation Fund, Turtle Survival Alliance, Turtle Conservancy, Chelonian Research Foundation, Conservation International, Wildlife Conservation Society, and San Diego Zoo Global, 54 pp.


Brennan, T.C. 2014. Online Field guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona.

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