How the Turtle Got Its Shell

  • Published on: 12 March 2018
  • Viewers like you help make PBS (Thank you ๐Ÿ˜ƒ) . Support your local PBS Member Station here:

    Where did turtles come from? And how did the they get their shells? The answers to these questions would eventually cause scientists to rethink the entire history of reptile evolution.

    Thanks as always to Nobumichi Tamura for allowing us to use his wonderful paleoart : Additionally, a big thank you to Tyler Lyson, Luke Norton, Andrey Atuchin, and Gaberiel Bever for their images of Eunotosaurus.

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios:

    Want to follow Eons elsewhere on the internet?
    Facebook -
    Twitter -
    Instagram -

  • Runtime : 9:12
  • dinosaurs dinos paleo paleontology scishow eons pbs pbs digital studios hank green john green complexly fossils natural history turtle shell plastron carapace Proganochelys Triassic Period clade eureptilia parareptilia pareiasaurs Bradysaurus Anthodon developmental biologists Eunotosaurus Odontochelys burrowing ribs scutes turtles all the way down reptiles


  • PBS Eons
    PBS Eons   1 years ago

    We have a correction! At 4:27, we say that, aside from Odontochelys, no known turtles had teeth. That was incorrect, because some other extinct turtles did have teeth in their palates. What we should have said was that Odontochelys was the first known turtle with teeth. We also wanted to clarify that the bony plates found in pareiasaurs are called osteoderms rather than scutes. The term "scutes" refers to the keratinous layer that covers the osteoderms. Thanks to the viewer who pointed this out!

  • Doodel_06
    Doodel_06   1 days ago

    i thought they got it when octopus lost theirs.

  • Moon Wolf Foxx
    Moon Wolf Foxx   1 weeks ago

    So basically there (not all in video) there was a dinosaur thing that then adapted to dig, likely to hide from weather patterns and predators or raise families so it began to get the ability to dig, and it likely had short legs so it could fit in the short caves it dug better, but to make it easier it got wider ribs to anchor better, but it got slower because the ribs prevented them from moving their legs fast, and it's predators could hunt them easily unless they where in their caves, but while digging or searching for food (guessing that this creature or evolving things was a herbivore) it could get hunted easily, the shell came along to help it.

    SEKIBANKI   1 weeks ago

    Well, baby red eared sliders have really wide ribs, an osified plastron and a ring of bony plates around the edge of their shell ๐Ÿค”

  • Maurice Harris
    Maurice Harris   1 weeks ago

    I don't understand the dislikes that you receive. You guys do a great job. They're just weirdoes. ๐Ÿข

  • Seiden Kaczka
    Seiden Kaczka   1 weeks ago

    So ribs fused together to form a shell. Ok. But how did the ribs get outside of the skin?

  • pugkin
    pugkin   2 weeks ago

    i know itโ€™s not the point and itโ€™s not why iโ€™m here but man turtles is such a fun word and i love how she says it

  • Dave Adam
    Dave Adam   2 weeks ago

    please do a video about cannabis

  • Terrorizere MLBB
    Terrorizere MLBB   3 weeks ago

    Wanna know who is the giant Turtle? Its (Drumroll)AnklyosaurusJk

  • Nick Walker
    Nick Walker   3 weeks ago

    I used to catch turtles when I was a kid. I never thought about the mechanisms involved to bring that adorable creature into my backyard.I was lucky I never got bitten by one. Never kept one as a pet either, because what kid has a bowl of fruit layin around?

  • Revina Que
    Revina Que   1 months ago

    "These were sometimes called the ugliest reptiles, but we don't judge here." ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ Loved that part

  • emilio
    emilio   1 months ago

    i thought maybe it was just swimming behind the squid at the right time

  • Mahaj Mahir
    Mahaj Mahir   1 months ago

    I want to marry you such beautiful and soothing voice. If you were my biology teacher I would have big crush on you.

  • hikaru starr
    hikaru starr   1 months ago

    my pet turtle says that he's more closely related to lizards and snakes than crocodiles and birds.

  • Casperh
    Casperh   1 months ago

    0:55 It must be.....from the ocean. Shining in the sun , covering the shore ๐Ÿ˜

  • James Coyne
    James Coyne   1 months ago

    This is all wrong. Turtles developed their plastron because they wanted to walk on landbut their legs were stubby. By developing a hard bottom portion of their body, they could easily slide along while their stubby legs did their thing. Kind of like a skid plate on a 4x4.But they soon learned (the hard way) that they were slow and easy prey so they developed their carapace so other beasts would have a more difficult time biting and eating them. The carapace also made a convenient home or sorts where the could tuck in their legs & tail and head so they could get out of the sun and to protect those vital appendages (head included) from the aforementioned biting beasts.

  • Chris P
    Chris P   1 months ago

    Makes me think of pictures of the flying lizard and its wide ribs it uses to glide through trees with

  • Carto 40
    Carto 40   1 months ago

    I have two tortoises so this is neat.

  • testunot
    testunot   1 months ago

    Nah turtles are related to crabs

  • Gaming Mister
    Gaming Mister   1 months ago

    I tend to listen a lot better when the ๐Ÿ‘ฉ is explaining things

  • RavenTek
    RavenTek   1 months ago

    Those are the ugliest para reptile? I donโ€™t find it ugly Iโ€™d have one as a pet if it wasnโ€™t extinct ๐Ÿ˜†

  • Michael Sheehan
    Michael Sheehan   1 months ago

    I love the "Turtles all the way down" reference! Great video, as usual :-)

  • Handsome Geek
    Handsome Geek   1 months ago

    Pretty girl telling the world the pretty facts

  • Fishslap 33
    Fishslap 33   1 months ago

    I thought burrowing was tied to long, thin bodies? Other wide animals, like flounders, skates etc are all camouflagers, not burrowers. Easy to rustle up some dirt to cover yourself with, easy to move away quickly. Wouldn't burrowing repitles just become snakes again, not turtles?

  • MultiNeal11
    MultiNeal11   1 months ago

    The chicken or the egg? Would love to see an episode on that!!!

  • ok-sushi
    ok-sushi   1 months ago

    Save the turtles.Sksksksksk