Testudines include extinct and extant tortoises, turtles and terrapins. These reptiles are found on land, sea, fresh, and brackish water. This diverse group of reptiles first appeared about 215 MYA. This ancient group of reptiles is characterized by their ‘shell,’ the upper portion is called a carapace, while the lower section is called the plastron. This bony and cartilaginous ‘shell’ is in fact a integral part of their skeleton, as it includes their vertebrae and ribs. Aquatic turtles tend to be larger than their land bound cousins.
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