An international team of researchers from the United States and Germany have discovered a key missing link in the evolutionary history of turtles. The new extinct species of reptile, Pappochelys, was unearthed in an area that was an ancient lake in southern Germany about 240 million years ago during the Middle Triassic Period. Its physical traits make it a clear intermediate between two of the earliest known turtles, Eunotosaurus and Odontochelys. Features in the skull of Pappochelys also provide critical evidence that turtles are most closely related to other modern reptiles, such as lizards and snakes. Previously, scientists believed that turtles may have descended from the earliest known reptiles. Additional information is available in the June 24 issue of Nature. Hans-Dieter Sues, curator of vertebrate paleontology in the

Read More: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History scientist discovers key link in turtle evolution