Dec 12, 2006

Right on, Lightning

Adams Morgan is a colorful neighborhood and one of its most striking inhabitants is Lightning, the sidewalk hogging tortoise of Kalorama Road. He and Turtle Todd (Lightning's affectionately named caretaker) greeted me the very first time I entered my neighborhood in 2002, and they'll both likely long outlast me here.

If you ask Turtle Todd how long he's lived here, he replies, "Since the Carter administration." He's not old but he is steady, like his friendly counterpart.

I've watched children and adults alike squeal with delight upon seeing this dynamic duo over the years. Countless artists and rogue photographers have captured him (I will update to include evidence later).

This morning comes New York Times news that turtles are much more than just pretty faces, they're modern marvels of science! We've all heard that they live an unbelievably lot of years, but I didn't know that,
in contrast to nearly every other animal studied, a turtle’s organs do not gradually break down or become less efficient over time.

“Turtles don’t really die of old age,” Dr. Raxworthy said. In fact, if turtles didn’t get eaten, crushed by an automobile or fall prey to a disease, he said, they might just live indefinitely.

Turtles have the power to almost stop the ticking of their personal clock. “Their heart isn’t necessarily stimulated by nerves, and it doesn’t need to beat constantly,” said Dr. George Zug, curator of herpetology at the Smithsonian Institution. “They can turn it on and off essentially at will.”

And to this I say, Right on, Lightning.

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