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Top 10 Weird Turtle Facts

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Turtles Are Nearly As Old As The Dinosaurs

Chelonians and dinosaurs emerged and developed at pretty much the same time, in natural history terms. The oldest known fossil turtle, Odontochylys semitstacea, dates back 220 million years, which means it showed up 23 million years after the earliest known dinosaur relative, Asilisaurus kongwe. That long-extinct ancient turtle had a partial shell covering its belly, but it didn't extend to completely protect its back, like the ones that modern chelonians have, according to National Geographic.

Amazingly, some turtles that existed in the age of the dinosaurs are still around. Pelomedusidae, a family of freshwater turtles native to eastern and southern Africa, first appeared about 120 million years ago. The first tortoises emerged on land at the start of the Tertiary Period 65 million years ago, shortly after the dinosaurs died out in a mass extinction. In the ocean, the oldest surviving species of sea turtles, the Cheloniidae, date back 55 million years, according to the book Turtles of the World.

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