Previous Next / This project integrates molecular, morphological, and developmental data with the fossil record to determine whom turtles are related to and the evolutionary origin of their body plan Turtles have one of the most bizarre body plans of any animal alive today, with a boney shell that encases both the pelvic and shoulder girdles. The turtle shell is made up of over 50 individual bones. The evolutionary origin—or how the shell forms, when it forms, and the initial impetus for its initial transformation—has fascinated scientists for centuries. Additionally, partly as a result of their unique body plan, whom turtles are related to has remained one of the more vexing phylogenetic problems in the 21st century. These interrelated questions formed the corpus of my graduate and postgraduate work, and I continue to pursue these interesting questions. This broadly collaborative project integrates developmental, soft-tissue anatomy, and high-resolution computed tomography data of both extant and extinct animals with rapidly emerging molecular data, all within a phylogenetic context, to address these interesting questions. Key collaborators include Bruce Rubidge (University of the Witwatersrand), Gabriel Bever (Johns Hopkins Medical Institute), Emma Schachner (University of Louisiana), and Torsten Scheyer (University of Zurich).