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Palaeontology

Giant prehistoric turtle had no shell at all

August 24, 2018 | Comment icon 6 comments



Turtles did not always have shells. Image Credit: Field Museum / IVPP
Scientists have discovered the fossil remains of an ancient turtle with a toothless beak and no shell.
Dating back 228 million years, the fossil was recently unearthed in China's Guizhou province.

The species has been named Eorhynchochelys sinensis, or "Dawn turtle with a beak from China".

"This creature was over six feet long, it had a strange disc-like body and a long tail, and the anterior part of its jaws developed into this strange beak," said Olivier Rieppel of Chicago's Field Museum.

"It probably lived in shallow water and dug in the mud for food."
In modern turtles, the shell is particularly important because it not only provides the animal with physical protection but can also help to prevent a build-up of lactic acid while underwater.

It isn't clear exactly when the shell first evolved, however this newly discovered species appeared to be on the verge of developing one.

"The origin of turtles has been an unsolved problem in palaeontology for many decades," said Rieppel.

"Now with Eorhynchochelys, how turtles evolved has become a lot clearer."



Source: Phys.org | Comments (6)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by MyOtherAccount 4 years ago
All so that millions of years later I could buy a box turtle with a painted back shell for 35 cents at the local Ben Franklin's Store. That lead to states outlawing the sell of box turtles because they were taking over and replacing other turtles.
Comment icon #2 Posted by qxcontinuum 4 years ago
What is that wasnt a turtle?
Comment icon #3 Posted by DirtyDocMartens 4 years ago
If you meant "What if...", I was wondering the same thing. How do they know it was an ancestor of today's turtle? I'm not saying they don't, only that I don't.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Carnoferox 4 years ago
This is determined by phylogenetic analysis by comparing different characters of the skeleton to other animals. Eorhynchochelys was found to be closely related to other stem-turtles like Pappochelys and Odontochelys. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0419-1
Comment icon #5 Posted by Myles 4 years ago
These one-off's always make me wonder if they found an abnormality.   I guess they would need to find a 228 million year old turtle with a shell to help prove it. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by UFOwatcher 4 years ago
Apple pie with no crust is just apples... Not a pie.


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