Exploded turtles of the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien

June 6, 2018

Exploded turtle skulls are cool, but what about exploding the entire turtle? (Not that way.) Folks at the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien roll hard. Or did – I assume these exhibits are old. Thankfully no museum studies doofus has insisted they be taken down and replaced with an interactive 3D display on what it feels like to be a sea turtle. Kudos to the current management for keeping the natural history museum filled with natural history.

I didn’t get back far enough from them to photograph all of the labels, mostly because I had like 90 minutes to jet through roughly 13,792 halls of amazing things. But this one is a loggerhead, Caretta caretta. Identifying the others is left as an exercise for the reader.

Or better yet, make your own, if you can procure a dead turtle.

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5 Responses to “Exploded turtles of the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien”

  1. Mike Taylor Says:

    “Folks at the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien roll hard.”

    Surely you mean that they rock hard?

  2. Mark Evans Says:

    So are the ones with the longer tails males?

  3. Matt Wedel Says:

    Surely you mean that they rock hard?

    No, I wrote what I meant. As in, “that’s how they roll”.

    So are the ones with the longer tails males?

    I think that’s a safe inference. Certainly the individuals on the left in each photo have tails so short it’s hard to imagine them being anything other than female. And there would be some nice symmetry in having exploded skeletons of both sexes. But I didn’t check the labels to know for sure.

  4. Crown House Says:

    Hi, I’m living in Vienna and so I went to the museum and checked out the turtles. Turns out, three of them are Caretta caretta, and the left one on the first foto is Macrocheliys temminckii, an Alligator Snapping Turtle.
    Unfortunately, there is no information about the sex of the specimens.
    If you ever wind up in Vienna again and give a talk, do tell – I wouldn’t miss it!

  5. Matt Wedel Says:

    Thanks for the IDs. Now that you’ve provided the answer, the Macrochelys makes total sense – the wickedly hooked beak, big claws on almost all the digits, and small but fully-ossified plastron bones are all giveaways that it’s not a sea turtle. Pretty impressive that it can sit beside a bunch of loggerheads and not stand out, size-wise.

    I hope to end up in Vienna again – it’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve had the good fortune to visit. Would be great to give a talk there someday. If I do, you’ll surely hear about it here.


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