Secret Lives of Turtles

August 22, 2016
Daniel Hong Webb School of California 12th Grade

Daniel Hong
Webb School of California 12th Grade

What makes the turtle so globally iconic? It’ s the shell. People intuitively characterize the turtle with the shell: the sturdy outside that provides protection for the turtles. Everybody knows that. It just makes sense, right? But only recently have scientists uncovered the origins behind the shells.

These creatures didn’ t always have the seemingly iconic shells. In fact, the formation of the infamous, protective shells was a byproduct of the turtle’ s unique adaptation to its environment. The early proto turtles had to develop in a way to escape the harsh South African conditions. In a sense, the metaphysical development of the turtle had to choose between fight or flight, stand up or flee. And contrary to what people thought, the turtle’ s development chose “flee.” These early turtles didn’t develop the architype shells for protection, but for burrowing themselves underground. The major physical change that the early turtles went through was their broadening their ribs. Although broadening their ribs, came with disadvantages such as interferences with its locomotion and breathing, their early shells allowed them to dig underground to avoid the arid climate of South Africa.

This discovery of the early turtle shell purpose can be accredited to the discovery of the 260-million- years- old, 15 cm long proto turtle fossil that clearly showed the partial shell. Things aren’ t always as they seem.

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One Comment

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