Sources : Tortoise

Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus, Book 3, 11.3; 5, 4.3): [Book 3, 11.3] All animals have not a bladder, but all viviparous animals have this organ, and the tortoise alone of oviparous animals. [Book 5, 4.3] ...for none of of them have a bladder, except the tortoise. The female of this animal, though furnished with a bladder, has but one passage; but the tortoise is oviparous. - [Cresswell translation, 1887]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 6:30): The tortoise [testudo] is so called because its back is covered over with a shell [testa] in the manner of a vaulted roof. There are four kinds of tortoise: land turtles; sea turtles; mud turtles, that is, those living in mud and swamps; the fourth kind are the river turtles, which live in fresh water. Some people say - and this is unbelievable - that ships go more slowly when they carry the right foot of a turtle. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Saint Ambrose [4th century CE] (Hexameron, Book 5, 10.31; 6, 4.19): [Book 4, 10.31] What shall I say of the turtle which inflicts a sting even when dead? Just as a person who treads on the still palpitating head of a viper is said to suffer a more serious injury in fact, an incurable wound than he would from poison, so, too, a turtle when dead is reported to inflict a more dangerous wound from its sting than it does when alive. [Book 6, 4.19] When tortoises, after eating the entrails of a serpent, feel the poison circulating through their bodies, they have recourse to a plant called marjoram in an effort to find a cure. Even when they lie concealed in their lairs in the marshes, they instinctively seek for a curative antidote. By this assured cure they attest that they know the efficacy of plants. - [Savage translation, 1961]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Serpents 8.39): [Thomas says the tortuca is a serpent, so he put in the book on serpents. He seems to have been confused about this animal; where some of his ideas came from is not clear.] Some say that the tortuca [turtle or tortoise] is a genus of serpent. It is a two-footed animal. It is covered with a shell like two very hard shields, and it covers himself with these so much that it can hardly be destroyed even by the strongest blows. It has a head like a buffo [?], a tail like a scorpion, and a weak voice. It lays eggs like a hen, but its eggs are harmful to eat. It lacks poison in life, but by no means after death. For, as Ambrose says, if anyone steps on its kidneys with a bare foot after death he is immediately infected with poison. A female tortuca, as Aristotle says, has only one way of voiding her superfluous water, although she has a bladder; and this is contrary to all animals that have a bladder: for animals that have a bladder have two ways of voiding their superfluous water. Therefore, it has a bladder contrary to the nature of all animals that have feathers, or scales, or a shell, because all these do not have a bladder. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book18.107): The Tortuse is accounted among snailes, for he is closed betwéen most hard shells, in the which he closeth him when any thing grieveth him: and of Tortuca is double kinde, that one dwelleth in rivers, and that other in lande. And Tortuca of rivers slaieth and is venemous: and the lande Tortuse dwelleth in houses & in woodes, and is cleane and good to eating, but it is horrible and foule in sight, and layeth egges as an Hen, but they be more pale and lesse in quantitie, and is a foure footed Beast, with foure small féete, as a frogge, with a little head as a serpent, and hath hard shells, and many foule specke. And their flesh that dwelleth in woodes be medicinable, and hath vertue to restore, & helpeth therfore for Tisikes and Etikes, & for them that be consumpt. Arist[otle] lib. 8. speaketh of the sea Tortuse and sayth, that he eateth all thing, and his mouth, is stronger than any other waste mouth, for if he take a stone in his mouth, hée breaketh it, and he commeth out of the water to the brinke, & eateth the grasse and hearbes, and when he tourneth againe to the water, he goeth up & swimmeth, so that his backe is drye with the Sunne, for it is not easie to him to bée déepe in water. Also lib. 13. a beast that hath stales, feathers, and shells, hath no bladder for scarcitie of drinke, for superfluitie of drinke passeth into the fethers and into other things, except ye Tortuse: for his loung is most fleshie and bloudy like to the loung of a Cowe: & the lung of the wilde Tortuse is more than hee should be, for his body is contained in a thicke shell, and is not onely dissolved therefore but in flesh, and therefore in the Tortuse is a bladder to receive superfluitie, but the bladder is full lyttle: & in all beasts that have bloudie lungs, is a bladder, & therefore onely the Tortuse among all beasts with hard shells, hath bladder and raines. - [Batman]