Monday, December 25, 2006

Slow Is Beautiful -- NY Times

Turtles! living up to 250 years on a very sparse diet.
Slow Is Beautiful
Published: December 12, 2006
This was no euphemistic brushoff, no reptilian version of ''Sorry, I'll be busy that night washing my hair.'' Paddling around in a tropically appointed pool at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the husky female Gibba turtle from South America made all too palpable her disdain for the petite male Gibba that pursued her....''The tale of the tortoise and the hare is the turtle's life story,'' said Mr. Cover, who calls himself a card-carrying member of the ''turtle nerds'' club. ''Slow and steady wins the race.'' With its miserly metabolism and tranquil temperament, its capacity to forgo food and drink for months at a time, its redwood burl of a body shield, so well engineered it can withstand the impact of a stampeding wildebeest, the turtle is one of the longest-lived creatures Earth has known. Individual turtles can survive for centuries, bearing silent witness to epic swaths of human swagger. Last March, a giant tortoise named Adwaita said to be as old as 250 years died in a Calcutta zoo, having been taken to India by British sailors, records suggest, during the reign of King George II....