The integumental appendages of the turtle shell: An evo-devo perspective

Jacqueline Moustakas-Verho, Gennadii Cherepanov

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review


The turtle shell is composed of dorsal armor (carapace) and ventral armor (plastron) covered by a keratinized epithelium. There are two epithelial appendages of the turtle shell: scutes (large epidermal shields separated by furrows and forming a unique mosaic) and tubercles (numerous small epidermal bumps located on the carapaces of some species). In our perspective, we take a synthetic, comparative approach to consider the homology and evolution of these integumental appendages. Scutes have been more intensively studied, as they are autapomorphic for turtles and can be diagnostic taxonomically. Their pattern of tessellation is stable phylogenetically, but labile in the individual. We discuss the history of developmental investigations of these structures and hypotheses of evolutionary and anomalous variation. In our estimation, the scutes of the turtle shell are an evolutionary novelty, whereas the tubercles found on the shells of some turtles are homologous to reptilian scales.
TidskriftJournal of Experimental Zoology. Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Sidor (från-till)221-229
Antal sidor9
StatusPublicerad - 2015
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


  • 1181 Ekologi, evolutionsbiologi
  • 1184 Genetik, utvecklingsbiologi, fysiologi

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