Quick: at first blush, who do you think is the turtle’s closest kin in the big critter-pot of life? Birds? Crocodiles? Lizards? Fluffy kittens?
Not one to give up its evolutionary secrets in a hurry, turtles have now been firmly placed in its proper family tree, says paleobiologists at the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab in Maine who have been working on this shell-game for years now.
Thanks to a new molecular level technique for analyzing and classifying animals, scientists are putting turtles within the (drum roll, please) lizard clan. (Take that Slitherin!)
According to Science News:
“Different microRNAs develop fairly rapidly in different animal species over time, but once developed, they then remain virtually unchanged,” said Kevin Peterson, a paleobiologist at MDIBL and Dartmouth College. “They provide a kind of molecular map that allows us to trace a species’ evolution.”
We hope this news doesn’t mean that turtles will now be forced to meet up with their kin at the next family reunion. You know how it goes when the chuckwallas have too many brittlebushes….