Another turtle with teeth, Elginia (Newton 1893)

Several years ago
the world of paleontology was delighted to find a turtle with teeth, Odontochelys. Ironically, we’ve known about a turtle with teeth for over 120 years without realizing it.

Adding
the horned turtle, Meiolania (Owen 1882, 1888), to the large reptile tree (still not updated) was the key to realizing that Elginia (Newton 1893), which is known from a skull likewise festooned with spikes and horns, is an unrecognized turtle with teeth. These two represent a clade separate from the main turtle clade, which includes Odontochelys, Proganochelys and Chelonia, the living green sea turtle.

Figure 1. Elginia is a toothed turtle, basal to the giant horned toothless turtle, Meiolania.

Figure 1. Elginia is a toothed turtle, basal to the giant horned toothless turtle, Meiolania.

Elginia was long considered an odd sort of pareiasaur, a close outgroup to the turtles. Evidently, like Clark Kent and Superman, these two have never been tested together in phylogenetic analysis. Same old story retold again.

We’ll look at the details over the next few blog posts.

References
Newton ET 1893. On some new reptiles from the Elgin Sandstone: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, series B 184:473-489.
Owen R 1882. Description of some remains of the gigantic land-lizard (Megalania prisca
Owen), from Australia. Part III.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London, series B, 172:547-556.
Owen R 1888. On parts of the skeleton of Meiolania platyceps (Owen). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London, series B, 179: 181-191.

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