May 30 2013
The origin of the turtle shell is a "hot topic," according to Gaberiel Bever, Ph.D., assistant professor of anatomy at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. In Elsevier Connect , Bever explains that he and a team of researchers have concluded that a 260-million-year-old reptile from South Africa, Eunotosaurus africanus, is the earliest known version of a turtle, in part because of its distinctive T-shaped ribs. "Like other complex structures, the shell evolved over million of years and was gradually modified into its present-day shape," says Bever. The team's findings were published in Current Biology.