From the New Scientist News Service:
A newly identified fossil could explain one of evolution’s biggest mysteries – the origin of the turtle’s shell.
Bone fragments from a 210-million year-old, land-dwelling reptile from New Mexico suggest that the earliest turtles didn’t have much of a shell at all.
Over millions of years, rows of protective armour plates gradually fused together and to the reptile’s vertebrae, eventually creating a complete shell.
“Turtles ultimately originated from something that looked like an armadillo,” says lead author Walter Joyce, a palaeontologist at the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut.
Read the complete New Scientist news article here.