Rieppel, Olivier C. Department of Geology, The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois.
- Classification and morphology
- Developmental biology
- Odontochelys semitestacea
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Turtles [order Testudinata (Chelonia)] are characterized by a highly specialized body plan, which renders the analysis of their evolutionary relationships with other reptiles difficult. The most salient feature of the turtle body plan is the shell, composed of a carapace that covers the back of the trunk, and a ventral plastron that covers the belly. The development of the turtle shell is correlated with intricate changes that affect the vertebral column, the associated ribs, and the limb girdles. Discussions of the evolutionary origin of turtles therefore need to address two separate questions: Which ancestral group of reptiles gave rise to turtles; and how did their unique body plan evolve?
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