Tortoises look and are old. They are the oldest of the living land reptiles, the surviving link between animal life in water and on land. Tortoise is the first cultural history of this long-lived and intriguing creature that has existed for more than 200 million years. It covers examples of species worldwide, in evolution, myth and reality, ranging across palaeontology, natural history, folklore, art forms (including the use of tortoise shell in furniture-making), literature, veterinary medicine, space research and trade regulations. We learn of the tortoise's exploitation past and present as foodstuff, of the illegal international trade in certain species, and of its status in current conservation.