Skip to main content


Odontochelys semitestacea
Odontochelys is an extinct animal that was only just recently discovered (2008). It is pretty darn remarkable find, and represents the earliest Turtle that we know about.. it dates back to the Early Triassic over 220 million years ago!

Odontochelys is a transitional reptile. It shares many characteristics with modern turtles, but also demonstrates traits found in earlier reptiles. It has a plastron, which is the under part of a turtle's shell, but it has no carapace! It also has a turtle-like beak, but there are teeth inside it!

The find is helping scientists figure out how turtles evolved. The previous-oldest-fossil already had a carapace, so discovering a species without one gives clues as to where the shell actually came from. One theory is that shells came from the fusion of osteoderms, which are bony plates of armor in the skin. But Odontochelys has no osteoderms, yet it still has a plastron.

The other theory, which is now looking better, is that the plastron grew first (presumably to protect the aquatic turtles from underside attacks). Once the plastron was in place the turtles eventually evolved extensions from their ribs and backbone that fused together to form a full shell. However, it will be difficult to determine for sure until more transitional fossils are uncovered.

Status : Extinct for around 220 Millions Years
Location : China
Size : Length up to 9.5in (24cm), Weight up to 4.5lbs (2kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Sauropsida -- Order : Testudines
Family : †Odontochelyidae -- Genus : †Odontochelys -- Species : †O. semitestacea


Popular posts from this blog

Bornean Orangutan

The Bornean Orangutan is one of two extant Orangutan species in the world. It is the third largest primate (after Gorillas) and is the largest primarily tree-dwelling animal in the world. Males are substantially larger than females, and average at around 165lbs. Bornean Orangutans are largely solitary. A handful might live within a small range but they will seldom interact with one another. Males and females only meet up to breed, which happens only once every several years. A young Orangutan will stay with it's mother for about five years, and the females tend to go about eight years between births. That is the longest interim period of any animal! Sadly, the Bornean Orangutans are in a lot of trouble. They need large forests in order to thrive, and deforestation and habitat degradation has left many homeless. They are also hunted for meat and for traditional medicines. Conservation areas are being established to help these guys in the wild, and it is believed that there are a


For anyone who was counting, yesterday was our birthday-- four years! Four years filled with animals from A to Z, more than 1,100 of them! I can't thank my readers enough, it's been wonderful! And in celebration of that milestone... I'm taking a break. Hopefully not forever, but for a little bit at least. In the mean time I plan on getting a new layout out, along with some updates to some of the older articles. I'll post updates here and on the Facebook page, I'm also brainstorming some new animal-related projects, so keep an eye out! Thanks again for four awesome years!


The Binturong ( Arctictis binturong ) also has an equally awesome alternate common name, the Bearcat! However, it really isn't much of a bear OR a cat. While it is true that it is part of the Feliforma suborder, it is not a member of family Felidae. Binturongs are a part of their own family, Viverridae, which is shared with Civets, Linsangs, and Genets. There are six subspecies of Binturong, all of which have slight differences based upon location and habitat. Binturongs range in body size from 60-100cm in length, (not including their tail which has roughly the same length) and weigh between 20 and 30lbs. Binturongs are nocturnal animals native to the rain forests of South East Asia. The species range spans through several countries including China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are tree dwelling mammals, and have fully prehensile tails that basically double their body length and can be used to cling to the trees or to grasp food. Binturongs are phe