A spectacular find of some 1,800 fossilized mesa chelonia turtles from the Jurassic era has been uncovered in China’s northwest province of Xinjiang.
Today one of the world’s driest regions, 160 million years ago Xinjiang was a green place of lakes and rivers, bursting with life. Since 2007, researchers have found fossil sharks, crocodiles, mammals and several dinosaur skeletons.
The turtles had gathered in one of the remaining waterholes during a very dry period, awaiting rain. Today’s turtles in Australia for instance do the same thing. But for the Xinjiang turtles, the rain came too late. Many of the turtles were already dead and their bodies rotting. When the water arrived, it came with a vengeance: a river of mud, washing the turtles and sediments along with it and dumping them in one place, as the paleontologists read the site and its layers of stone.
The large number of turtles allows the researchers to make a first statistical analysis of Asian turtles in the Jurassic period. Their simultaneous death and preservation makes it possible to compare variability, growth, and morphological differences among the species. The scientists are looking for sponsors to support further field studies and research into the dinosaur finds.
Block of turtle layer during preparation. Credit: Universitaet Tübingen
“Bones upon bones, we couldn’t believe our eyes,” says Oliver Wings, paleontologist and guest researcher at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. Wings and the University of Tübingen’s fossil turtle specialist, Dr. Walter Joyce, have been working with Chinese paleontologists there since 2008.
“This site has probably more than doubled the known number of individual turtles from the Jurassic,” says Walter Joyce. “Some of the shells were stacked up on top of one another in the rock.” It is what paleontologists call a “bone bed” – in this case consisting only of turtle remains.
Published in Naturwissenschaften
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Ghost Light From Dead Galaxies - A Hubble Halloween
- Greenpeace Says Its GMOs Are Better Than Science's GMOs, Still Hates Golden Rice
- Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk By Sleeping With Lots Of Women - But Not Men
- Homo Floresiensis: Hobbit Species Continues To Provoke Questions About Human Evolution
- Everyone Hates Daylight Savings Time - But It Might Improve Public Health
- Okay With Disgusting Images? You Vote This Way 95 Percent Of The Time
- Supersonic Laser-Propelled Aircraft Get A Step Closer
- "Twelve years in a major urban public school system, and I couldn't once bring myself to eat a school..."
- "Hardly a day goes by without some creative new take on the eternal Evil White Man meme. Without..."
- "There would be no controversy if it were all balloons and ponies stories like that. But I hope..."
- "Let's talk about this disaster: I lost a course at the university where I work and became ineligible..."
- "Partisan nastiness doesn't advance dialogue. We are all in this together. You asked for solutions..."
- Battle of Britain: NGOs and scientists clash over proposal to loosen EU GMO restrictions
- Genetically modified clean energy from bacteria
- Designer babies: You can screen for cystic fibrosis but intelligence is a ways off
- Science as profane: What superstition of 1752 and 2014 share in common
- What’s so “natural” about “natural crop breeding”?
- Worried you have cancer? Take a Google pill!