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Turtles, tortoises and terrapins are familiar animals, often kept as pets. Despite this familiarity it has only been in the last few years that their evolutionary origins have started to be revealed. Answers are starting to emerge to some of the most puzzling questions in vertebrate evolution, such as how did the turtle shell evolve and how have turtles ended up with their shoulders inside their rib cages?
Many of the animals in the story of turtle evolution are little-known fossils but the sotry of the group covers several well-known animals, such as the European and North African Testudo species, the North American gopher tortoises and sliders, and the great sea turtles. The Great Survivors describes the evolution of the stranges of the living vertebrates, from their first appearance 220 million years ago to the present day, covering most fossils and every living species.