Turtles have backbones. According to Scholastic, turtles are reptiles, and all reptiles have backbones. A turtle's shell has upper and lower parts, the carapace and plastron, respectively, which are connected to the animal's backbone, ribs, shoulders and hips.
Both sections of the shell are made up of small bony plates that are covered with thin scales called laminae. They are made from a substance similar to human fingernails. The scales provide color -- typically brown, black or green -- for the turtle's shell; however, some are more colorful. For instance, spotted turtles have brightly colored dots on their shells while painted turtles have red, yellow or orange borders around their shells.