Fossil of Proto Turtle (IMAGE) University of the Witwatersrand Caption A new fossil of the oldest proto turtle, Eunotosaurus, discovered by then 8-year-old Kobus Snyman on his father's farm in the Karoo in South Africa, suggests the turtle shell initially evolved not for protection, but rather as an adaptation for burrowing. The broadened ribs and the beginnings of the turtle shell provided Eunotosaurus with a stable base from which it could use its large hands and spatula-shaped claws to burrow into the ground to escape the harsh arid environment found in South Africa 260 million years ago. Credit Tyler R. Lyson Usage Restrictions None License Licensed content Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.