Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Turtles in general are known for a long life, and box turtles are no exception. The hard shell of a box turtle has led to many being marked by having names and dates carved into them. Some such efforts are hoaxes, such as one with 'GW 1776' carved into its back. Others seem to provide evidence of a life-span that exceeds our own. Box turtles have a small home range and some are encountered again and again for many years. Researchers mark box turtles in this manner, putting coded notches at the edge of the shell. Thus, our knowledge of turtle longevity is growing with the turtles. Many box turtles seem to reach ages in excess of 50 years; one with multiple dates carved into its shell was believed to be at least 138 years old. Another way in which turtles have been aged is to count growth rings on individual scales, especially those on the underside. Just as with counting growth rings on a tree, it was believed that each ring meant one year of life. These rings may be useful in aging a turtle up to about 20 years, but often they are not. Unlike growth rings in a tree, the scales wear.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.