Identification: Stylemys 
Common name: “Pillar turtle” 
Age: Oligocene 
Origin: Wyoming, USA

Stylemys, meaning “pillar turtle,” is the first fossil genus of dry land tortoise belonging to the order Testudines discovered in the United States. The genus lived in temperate to subtropical areas of North America, Europe, and Asia, based on fossil distribution. The tortoise was common in the prehistoric Badlands, especially Nebraska and South Dakota. The ancient tortoises had primitive jaw muscles, unlike today’s tortoises, which also display the ostransiliens bone, and would have been herbivorous. While Stylemys species did exhibit the same neck structure as modern tortoises, the forelimbs were unsuitable for burrowing, setting them apart from modern genera.

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