Oligocene Tortoise Stylemys
Stylemys nebrascensis
Brule Formation
Middle Oligocene
Custer County, South Dakota
Here is a near perfect specimen of a baby Stylemys from the type area of the genus in South Dakota. Examples of juvenile tortoises of this quality are rare. The length of the carapace is only 7 cm. Both carapace and plastron are complete and there is only minor restoration. The specimen is not distorted from burial compaction and is a first-rate display piece.

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 genus was first described in 1851 by Dr. Joseph Leidy. The tortoise was common in the prehistoric Badlands, especially Nebraska and South Dakota. Stylemys is found throughout the White River Group from Chadronian through Whitneyan age. It also occurs in Oregon, California, Utah, Texas, Wyoming, and Colorado. Few Badlands fossils are more abundant, widely distributed, or better preserved than this genera. The shell body is often preserved with remarkable perfection, but upon exposure by erosion, they disintegrate quickly. Associated bones and skulls are rarely found. Fossil tortoise eggs of this genus have also been found in the host formation.
$800