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What is the largest species of tortoise or turtle
Chelonians are measured with calipers. One end of the caliper is placed at the edge of the carapace (upper shell) immediately above the head, and the other end is placed on the carapace edge above the tail. This is known as the straight line carapace length.
The famed giant tortoises that inhabit islands in the Galapagos Archipelago and Indian Ocean are the largest of the living land turtles. A male Galapagos tortoise, Geochelone nigra, from Isla Santa Cruz that has been captive-raised at the Life Fellowship Bird Sanctuary in Florida may well be the largest tortoise known. He weighed 356 kilograms (785 pounds) in 1988 and by 1996 was close to a stunning 400 kilograms (882 pounds). An Aldabra tortoise, Geochelone gigantea, living on Bird Island in the Seychelles is probably the world's largest free-roaming tortoise weighing in at a hefty 305 kilograms (672 pounds). In contrast to these island giants, the largest mainland tortoise – the African spurred tortoise, Geochelone sulcata – reaches a mere 90 kilograms (200 pounds) or so.
Two rare Asian softshells vie for the title of largest freshwater turtle. A Pelochelys bibroni from southeast Asia measured 51 inches long and is estimated by Dr. Peter Pritchard to have weighed 400 pounds. The narrow-headed softshell Chitra indica, commonly reaches 36 inches and is rumored to reach as much as 72 inches. According to Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Turtles the alligator snapping turtle, Macroclemys temminckii, is the USA's largest freshwater turtle at 76 kilograms (167 pounds). Among the Pleurodire (sideneck) turtles, the largest is the South American Arrau, Podocnemis expansa. Females may reach 90 kilograms (200 pounds).
Update to the "largest freshwater turtle" with documentation: The largest freshwater turtle recorded to date is the Yangtze Giant Softshell (Rafetus swinhoei) male in Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. He was captured in 2011 to treat some wounds and was released later in the year.
Here is some of the data recorded for this turtle:
Total Length = 185 cm (73 inches)
Carapace Length = 125 cm (49 inches)
Carapace width = 99 cm (39 inches)
Tail length = 35 cm (14 inches)
Weight = 169 kg (373 lbs)
The largest of all living turtles is a sea turtle. At an impressive six feet in length (and possibly longer) with a weight of some 590 kilograms (1300 pounds) the leatherback sea turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, is the true turtle giant!