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leatherback

leatherback, marine turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, found in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters around the world. The largest of all turtles, it may reach a length of 71/2 ft (230 cm) and weigh 1200 lb (540 kg). Its shell, unlike that of most turtles, has no horny layer; the bone layer is covered with tough, leathery, black skin. Seven bony ridges running the length of the shell give this turtle its distinctive appearance. Highly pelagic turtles, leatherbacks have occasionally been seen as far N as Norway and as far S as New Zealand. They sometimes enter shallow coastal waters, but come ashore only to lay eggs. They are omnivorous feeders. Like other sea turtles, the leatherback is declining in numbers as a result of hunting and egg harvesting. It is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Chelonia, family Dermochelidae.

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Dermochelidae

Dermochelidae(leathery turtle, leatherback; order Chelonia, suborder Cryptodira) A monospecific family (Dermochelys coriacea) comprising the largest marine turtle (up to 600 kg and 2 m long). The shell is not fused to the ribs or vertebrae, being reduced to dermal ossicles in a thick, leathery skin. The carapace is ridged, the flippers clawless. It occurs in all warm oceans.

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leatherback

leath·er·back / ˈle[voicedth]ərˌbak/ (also leatherback turtle) • n. a very large black turtle (Dermochelys coriacea, family Dermochelyidae) with a thick leathery shell, living chiefly in tropical seas.

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Dermochelys coriacea

Dermochelys coriacea See DERMOCHELIDAE.

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leatherback

leatherback See DERMOCHELIDAE.

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