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Neural impulses in response to tactile stimulation of the shell were recorded from afferent nerve fibres in tortoises (T. graeca and T. hermanni). It was found that there is a mechanoreceptive innervation in the superficial layers of the shell which is sensitive to transient stimuli, particularly to vibration at frequencies up to 100 Hz. Receptive fields pertaining to single and small groups of individual afferent fibres were mapped: the fields were sharply circumscribed and distributed in relation to the scutes of the shell. The tactile innervation that was found would be consistent with a capacity for recognition and accurate localization of innocuous stimuli and may play a central role in courtship and mating behaviour.