According to researchers this creature once travelled around an ancient lake feeding on worms and insects.
In 2006, researchers while excavating at Vellberg Lake that is an ancient lakebed located in southeastern Germany discovered the fossils of this 240 million year old animal.
Hans Sues, one of the researcher said, “We now have well over a dozen specimens, including partial skeletons but also some isolated parts of skeletons, but we have a nice spectrum of sizes, so you can sort of see how the animal grows and changes.”
The species is named Pappochelys rosinae, from the Greek word pappos meaning grandfather, and chelys which means turtle, so the word means grandfather of the turtles.
Sues further added, “It’s a beautiful link between the earliest precursors that we know of turtles, this animal called Eunotosaurs from South Africa that lived about 260 million years ago, and then later turtles that had fully developed shell.”
“The belly armor is composed of thick, rib-like bones that are beginning to fuse to each other in many places,” said paleontologists from Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History, noting that this is “an important stage in the evolution of the turtle shell.”
“Pappochelys indeed forms a missing link for two reasons. It is far older than all so far known turtles. And its anatomy is more primitive in many features, showing the ancestral condition of various body regions,” said Rainer Schoch, paleontologists of the Germany State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart.
Schoch also said, “Transitional creatures are the most important contribution that paleontology can make to the study of evolution. They are often unexpected and show surprising features. They show how complicated structures like the skull or turtle shell formed step by step, and also give evidence on the sequence of evolutionary steps.”