Proganochelys, one of the earliest known turtles, resembled today’s chelonians (turtles and tortoises) in many ways. As in other chelonian genera, it lacked teeth in the jaws but had a horny beak. However, unlike other chelonians, Proganochelys had teeth growing from the roof of the mouth.
The main feature of Proganochelys similar to that of modern chelonians is the armoured shell, formed from plates and fused ribs. One difference, compared with all present-day chelonians, is the long, spiky tail ending in a club.
Proganochelys was unable to retract its head under the shell. Instead, its neck was protected by small spines.