Scientific names are often Latinized forms of the name of a person connected with the discovery of the taxon, or describe some characteristic quality such as color, size or habitat. In this issue, What's in a Name? focuses on the pancake tortoise.
The pancake tortoise is a very unusual chelonian, so much so that in his encyclopedia Pritchard describes it as "the most extraordinary tortoise in the world". It is known by a variety of common names: pancake tortoise, because it's flat; soft-shelled tortoise, because its plastron is flexible; crevice tortoise, because of its penchant for cracks in rocks; and Tornier's tortoise, because its binomial is Malacochersus tornieri.