The Meandros shell tortoise is so called for the resemblance of the texture pattern of its shell to that of the Greek decorative design. This shell has been prized as an ornament for various peoples over the centuries, how-ever beginning in the 17th century Europeans began using them in fine jewelry and accessories which led to the first captive tortoises and breed-ing programs. Changes in physiology due to this captive breeding were slow to begin with, but as the demand for more unique and gaudy shells increased, the intensity of selectively breeding for a more apparent pat-tern did as well. Beginning in the 19th century, leg weaknesses and de-formities were starting to appear more frequently than before, and by the end of that century cases were being reported where tortoises were born missing legs. Being in captivity allowed such tortoises to survive and breeders were not averse to using such individuals as breeding stock so long as they had possessed desired shell traits. The market demand for shells decreased over the course of the 20th century but as the number of tortoises being bred decreased to match, the rate of tortoises born with-out legs increased until 3 out of every 4 tortoises was missing one or more legs at birth. The cost of maintaining so many special needs tortoises has rapidly diminished the number of breeding programs but there remains a small market for the remarkably formed shells.
|Type of Work||Sculpture|
|Medium||ceramic slip cast|
|Dimensions||approx. 42 x 18 x 10 in. on display|
|Subject Matter||Tortoise, animals|
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