Have you ever wondered how turtles got their shells? Researchers recently discovered fossils that have helped them to determine just how these slow-moving evolved from soft-backed creatures into hard shelled animals.
The fossils were discovered in an ancient lake bed in Germany. The name of the fossil species is Pappachelys, which means “grandfather turtle” in Greek. It is estimated that the Pappachelys lived during the Triassic period about 240 million years ago. Researchers suggest that these turtles are part of the snake and lizard families.
Studying the fossils, researchers also conducted that the Pappachelys was about eight inches long from its nose to the tip of its tail – the same size as today's common turtle. However, this turtle looked a little different from modern turtles: it appears that the Pappachelys’ ribs were pointed outwards and its back was curved, therefore only making it look like it had a shell. Its ribs were also thicker than turtles today. This made it difficult for prey to bite the Pappachelys.
Researchers say that the shell of today's turtle is part of the evolution of the Pappachelys. They hope to continue learning about this creature’s fascinating history from the newly-unearthed fossils.