RESOURCES: Beneath the Shell

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Science  16 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5546, pp. 1423c
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5546.1423c

Turtles are survivors that have endured catastrophes like the demise of the dinosaurs, the ice ages, and disco. For a quick rundown on the anatomy, fossil history, and evolution of these unique reptiles, crawl over to this site created by paleontologist Eugene Gaffney of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. An introduction reveals some of the design quirks of being encased in a bony box: A turtle's vertebrae are fused to the roof of the shell, for instance, and the shoulder and pelvic girdles lie inside the ribcage. Drag your mouse over the interactive cladogram to see defining characteristics for extinct and living groups. Other sections focus on Gaffney's areas of interest, including the extinct horned turtles that were the reptilian answer to longhorn cattle.


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