This object is on permanent display in the Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land exhibit, located in the Pleistocene Epoch wall case.


Dwarf Tortoise (Hesperotestudo incisa)
From Alachua Co., Florida
Lived ~100,000 years ago


Vertebrate Paleontology


This specimen of Hesperotestudo incisa is incredibly rare and it was found in the Haile Quarry, which is about a half hour from here in Gainesville. It’s incredibly rare in that it’s a complete skeleton of this animal which has never been seen before and it’s about the size of the modern Gopher Tortoise. We don’t know if they dug burrows or not like Gopher Tortoises, but they did have an armored pad on their tail. So they either dug burrows and had this armored pad exposed at the end of the burrow, or they dug themselves under bushes and things and had this protective shield on their back end.

Jason Bourque
Fossil Preparator, Vertebrate Paleontology*
Florida Museum of Natural History


On display Sept. 23, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018, Rare, Beautiful & Fascinating: 100 Years @FloridaMuseum celebrated the Museum’s rich history. Each Museum collection was asked to contribute its most interesting items and share the stories that make them special. Though the physical exhibit is closed, this companion website remains online, providing an opportunity to experience the Florida Museum’s most treasured specimens.

Exhibit Area: Always on Display

Cover of the All Things Beautiful bookWant to see more? Explore more than 300 breathtaking color photos of plants, animals, fossils and cultural heritage materials from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s collections in the award-winning book All Things Beautiful available from the University Press of Florida.

*This title was accurate at the time the exhibit was on display in 2017. Please visit the collection website to verify current staff and student information.

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