Turtles of the total clade Pan-Kinosternoidea have a relatively poor fossil record that extends back to the Late Cretaceous (Campanian). The clade is found only in North America during its early history, but dispersed to Central America no later than the Miocene and to South America no later than the Pleistocene. Ancestral pan-kinosternoids were likely aquatic, bottom-walking omnivores or carnivores that preferred low-energy freshwater habitats. The Pan-Dermatemys lineage is often recovered in more fluvial habitats, and some are specialized to feed on aquatic vegetation. Alternatively, many representatives of Kinosternon evolved specializations (e.g., plastral lobe kinesis) that allowed them to successfully inhabit and disperse across more terrestrial habitats such as savannas and floodplains. A taxonomic review of the group concludes that of 42 named taxa, 27 are nomina valida (including two species of the controversial taxon Planetochelys), 14 are nomina invalida and only one a nomen dubium.
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