Turtle is considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. We found 627 fragments of turtle bone and shell (carapace and plastron) in the Yema-po excavation. These materials represent two species of turtle, one native to California and one imported from China.

Pond Turtle

The remains of at least 10 Pacific pond turtles were found at Yema-po. This turtle reaches between five and seven inches in length and was widely hunted in California during the late nineteenth century.

Soft-Shelled Turtle

The soft-shelled turtle was an expensive item, and was probably imported from China to Yema-po in dried form. In Chinese folk medicine, the soft-shelled turtle is regarded as a "cold" or Yin food, and men favor it because they believe it will restore their sexual vitality. The few soft- shelled turtle remains found at Yema-po probably were brought there for medicinal purposes.

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