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turtles, mammals and rattlesnakes...

> According to the NH article, turtles evolved during the Permian period
> from a group of animals known as pareiasaurs.  What I'm wondering is
> a) how secure is the conclusion that turtles arose via that lineage,
> and b) given that we accept it, how much help does that give us in
> determining where the turtle/snake/mammal splits occurred?  

This probably refers to the work by Michael Lee, who has described several
shared derived characteristics linking turtles to pareiasaurs.  I believe it
has been published in Science.  I have seen him present this work, and 
discussed it with him, and it seems very convincing.  As pareiasaurs were 
previously thought to be a sister group to Chelonia, I don't see how this
adds to the mammal/reptile relationship debate..

Tony Canning