Tala Ko

Odontochelys, a transitional turtle

Posted on: Thursday, 27 November 2008

Another turtle clip. This one’s really cool; I like the reconstruction picture.

Original clip by jw.

clipped from scienceblogs.com

Now this is an interesting beast. It’s a 220 million year old fossil from China of an animal that is distinctly turtle-like. Here’s a look at its dorsal side:


Notice in the skull: it’s got teeth, not just a beak like modern turtles. The back is also odd, for a turtle. The ribs are flattened and broadened, but…no shell! It’s a turtle without a shell!

Flip it over. There’s another specimen, and we can look down on its ventral side, and there it is — a plastron, or the belly armor.

So, what we have here is a long-legged, toothed reptile with an elongate body, and it also has a plastron like a turtle, and hints in the bony structure of the spine of the carapace-to-be. It also fits perfectly with the embryology: modern turtles form the plastron first, and the carapace second. This is a beautiful transitional form
And here’s a reconstruction of what they would have looked like, way back in the Triassic



Sigh. Two new gaps in the fossil record…

  blog it

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