Named By: Georg Baur - 1887.
Synonyms: Chelytherium, Psammochelys, Stegochelys, Triassochelys.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Anapsida?, Testudines.
Species: P. quenstedti (type), P. ruchae.
Size: About 1 meter long.
Known locations: Germany - Löwenstein Formation & Trossingen Formation, Greenland - Fleming Fjord Formation, and Thailand - Huai Hin Lat Formation.
Time period: Norian to Rhaetian of the Triassic.
Fossil representation: Several individuals.
well over a hundred years Proganochelys was
regarded as the oldest
known turtle, a title the genus held until the 2008 description
a slightly earlier genus that lived in the Carnian
stage of the Triassic.
Proganochelys had a developed carapace and plastron, the upper and lower parts of the shell respectively. These were formed by bony plates that had fused to the ribs and in life the plates would have had a covering of horn. Proganochelys was still quite primitive in some respects, one of the key things being that the head could not retract underneath the shell. Therefore to provide additional protection, the neck had a covering of spines that would have made it much more difficult for a predator to close its mouth around the neck. The tail of Proganochelys was quite long for a turtle, and it too had a covering of spines, but more interestingly the tail ended with a small club.
Fossils of Proganochelys are most often associated with Germany where the genus was first discovered, though at least three specimens of a second species named P. ruchae are known from Thailand. Proganochelys is also one of the few prehistoric animals to be identified as once living in what would become Greenland.
- Skull morphology of the oldest turtles: a preliminary description of Proganochelys quenstedti. - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 3 (1): 25–28. - E. S. Gaffney & L. J. Meeker - 1983.
- Proganochelys ruchae n. sp., chélonien du Trias supérieur de Thaïlande [Proganochelys ruchae n. sp., chelonian from the Upper Triassic of Thailand] - F. de Broin - 1984.