Common name: Soft-shell turtle
Scientific Name: Apalone ferox
Soft-shell turtles are aquatic reptiles that inhabit both fresh and brackish water. They have very distinctive markings on their shell which make them easy for zooarchaeologists (scientists who study animal remains from archaeological sites) to identify.
Animal Used at Mission San Luis
The study of plant and animals from sites (ethnobotany and zooarchaeology, respectively) is one of the most illuminating aspects of archaeological research. It can reveal details about past environments, resources, settlement patterns, agricultural practices, architecture, social life, and diet unavailable from other types of data.
Since plant remains are so fragile and often difficult to see, we have limited their display to a static exhibit case format (see "Apalachee Life"). However, we have selected some animal bones found at Mission San Luis, along with comparative skeletal materials (Drawers 17-26), to give to a sense of the challenges faced by those researchers who identify, analyze, and interpret these materials.
We have supplemented the skeletal materials with archaeological and documentary information about the use of these animals in Spanish Florida and at Mission San Luis.