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?
- Nobel Prize To Neutrino Oscillations
- In Plain English: Why Neutrino Mass and Oscillation Won A Nobel Prize.
- What Is Fat For?
- Machine learning vs NRA, a Grand Challenge
- How To Make Better Cookies With Science
- September 24th, 2015 - Just Another Day In Space - Asteroid Flybys, "Blood Moons" And Armageddon Demystified
- Publish Or Perish - And Cut Corners
- "Hi Tommaso, you depict this Nobel prize at little bit as if it had been given to the two collaborations..."
- "Thanks Mr. Lambino. Corrected. Gil Ross..."
- "70. Re: The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific? http://www..."
- "I like how you note my dislike of [all] inanimate objects. I'm calling out GUNS, if this isn't..."
- "Have read some of his papers. sad news...."