It sounds like a tale worthy of Kipling, but how the turtle got its neck is a mystery that might have been solved by science.

Researchers say fresh examination of a fossilised turtle, thought to have lived around 150 million years ago, suggests that ability of turtles to withdraw their neck and head into their shells might have evolved as it allowed them to rapidly shoot their head forward to snap up prey.

The protection to the creature, the researchers add, was likely a benefit that emerged later in evolution.

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