Scientists make rare discoveries in fossil turtle eggs

Dans un œuf de tortue fossilisé, des chercheurs de l’université de Wuhan (Chine) sont parvenus à identifier une tortue terrestre géante connue sous le nom de Yuchelys nanhsiungchelyids. Ici un exemplaire fossilisé trouvé au Canada. © Royal Tyrrell Museum

It is rare for a fossilized egg to retain its embryo. Even more so when it comes to the 90 million year old tortoise egg. Yet this is a discovery made by Chinese researchers.

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One Embryo The image of the tortoise and properly preserved in an egg. All are about 90 million years old. Before the dinosaurs disappeared. This is an incredible discovery Wuhan University researchers (China) report today.

Keep in mind that finding a fossil embryo is rare. This is because the tissues and bones of the developing animal break down easily over time. The Turtle eggs Be common Bombs The thinner it is the less it protects the embryos in them. But its discovery allows researchers to believe that others will find it.

The egg was discovered in the summer of 2018 by researchers at a farm in Henan province in central China. Size and shape of billiard ball – 5.4 and 5, 9 cm in diameter. There is no similarity with Dinosaur eggs They are often found in the region. But the two thin bones came out of a crack and caught their attention. They first believed in a new type of dinosaur.

Incredibly dense tile egg

Later, the researchers examined the material with computed tomography (CT) X-rays Really lets you look behind the egg. They discovered the problem of the bones. To understand who these bones belong to, they were reconstructed one by one in 3D. And they put them together in a small skeleton … the tortoise.

Some key features – a slightly square upper jaw and a severed posterior margin, for example – allowed researchers to identify which family this little tortoise belonged to. And precisely, in Thing, Not the word petty. Because the fetus was a fetus Eucalyptus nunciungselitz, A giant land turtle that lived in the time of the dinosaurs. Imagine it until a man is tall!

Among the surprises revealed in the study: The thickness of the egg shell: 1.8 mm. About four times more than that Geochelone Yanaibus, A The giant Galapagos tortoise Still known to produce particularly thick eggs. Researchers do not know why. Maybe an adaptation Weather This time it is dry, intended to retain water in the egg. But one thing is for sure: the little turtles of the time had to fight hard to see the daylight.

The thickness of these shells may have contributed to the disappearance of these giant turtles along with the dinosaurs. They rarely adapted themselves to the new environment they createdMeteor impact.

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