Research Highlights: Scientists Discovered Thick-Shelled Turtle Egg with Embryonic Remains from Cretaceous Period

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Image Credit: Yuzheng Ke

Scientists Discovered Thick-Shelled Turtle Egg with Embryonic Remains from Cretaceous Period

August 8, 2021

  • Fossil record lacks specimens about turtle eggs containing embryos.
  • Researchers provide the first description and taxonomy information of an egg with a preserved fossilized embryonic turtle.
  • The fossil was discovered from the Upper Cretaceous Xiaguan Formation of Henan Province in China.
  • The specimen is assigned to the Nanhsiungchelyidae which is an extinct group of large terrestrial turtles.
  • The egg is one of the largest and thickest shelled turtle eggs from the Mesozoic Era.
  • The egg is described as rigid and spherical.
  • The new discovery allowed the identification of other Nanhsiungchelyid egg clutches and comparisons to those of Adocidae.
  • Adocidae are extinct, omnivorous freshwater cryptodiran turtles and are mainly known from Cretaceous and Paleogene Asia and North America.[1]
  • Nanhsiungchelyidae and Adocidae form the basal extinct clade Adocusia of the Pan-Trionychia which consists of the living soft-shelled turtles.
  • Nanhsiungchelyids had different habitats compared with adocids.
  • However, Nanhsiungchelyidae and Adocidae shared some reproductive traits including thick eggshells, mid-size clutches, and large eggs.
  • The unusual thickness of Nanhsiungchelyids eggshell may be associated with a nesting style adaptation to a very harsh environment.

Sources:

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2021.1239

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adocidae


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