Once in a while when walking through the woods, and often close to water, I have picked up empty turtle shells. This would be the upper dome or bone called a carapace, often without the scales or scutes similar to keratin of fingernails that protect it. I have often wondered how they could be used in an survival or emergency situation.
The immediate use that comes to mind is that the inverted shell can be used as a cup for containing water or just to hold other things such as berries or other food items. I have used some natural materials in which to boil water (see “Boil Water In A Cabbage Leaf” and “Coconut Bowl Boiling Techniques“) so I prepared some coals to see if I could accomplish this with the turtle shell.
In the end, I did not get the water to reach a boil but I could see the water convection turning and a lot of steam rising. Because of the small size of the shell the water would evaporate and as the exposed shell would burn down to the water level the shell would diminish in size. It would appear that adding hot rocks to the water would be more effective to heat water inside.
It was a fun project and as usual there are lessons to be learned that are best accomplished before emergency situations occur.