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Stop! Turtles Are Actually Reptiles!


Sturgeon
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The origin of turtles has long been shrouded in mystery. Their fused, closed skulls raised the possibility that turtles are descended from the oldest tetrapod lineages, not closely related to diapsids or synapsids.

However, the newly described stem-turtle Pappochelys shows that turtles do descend from the diapsids, their closest relatives being squamates (lizards and snakes), meaning we don't have to kick all the turtles out of the herpetarium:
 

The new turtle is also noteworthy for the presence of two openings behind the eye socket on each side of the skull and shows that turtles did not evolve from early stem-reptiles, as traditionally thought, but are most closely related to lizards among present-day reptiles. Present-day turtles have lost these openings, but lizards and crocodilians have them.

 

 

The new turtle also provides new evidence of how the turtle shell evolved.

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Turtles are also well endowed with their turtlehood reaching half the length of their bodies. Just make sure they use protection lest they contract herpestarium...

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Bad pun aside, last fall we rescued a little slider turtle who was trying to cross the road. We named him Om and took him to a pond with other turtles on the Weyerhaueser corporate campus. We also fed him lettuces.

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