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

Scientists make a rare discovery in a fossilized turtle egg

It is rare for a fossilized egg to keep the embryo it contained intact. More so when it comes to a 90-million-year-old turtle egg. However, this is the discovery that Chinese researchers have just made.

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One fetus Turtle fossil and perfectly preserved in an egg. All about 90 million years old. before the dinosaurs disappeared. It’s an amazing discovery Wuhan University researchers (China) Today’s report.

Remember that it is still rare to find a fossil embryo. This is because the tissues and bones of a developing animal easily degrade over time. the turtle eggs generally shells A thin film that protects very little of the embryos it contains. But its discovery allows researchers to hope that they will find others.

This egg, which researchers spotted on a farm in China’s Henan Province, central China, during the summer of 2018. The size and shape of a billiard ball – its diameter ranges from 5.4 to 5, 9 centimeters. no resemblance to dinosaur eggs which are found regularly in the area. But two slender bones emerging from a crack caught their attention. They first believed in a new type of dinosaur.

Incredibly thick peeled egg

Next, the researchers studied the body using computerized tomography (CT) scans. X ray It literally allows you to see beyond the eggshell. They discovered a tangle of bones. To understand who these bones might belong to, they reconstructed them in 3D, one by one. And they put it together into a little turtle skeleton.

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Some key features — a slightly square upper jaw and a jagged hind edge, for example — have allowed researchers to determine which family this small tortoise belongs to. Specifically, in Theme, small is not the term. Because the fetus was a fetus for Yuchelys nanhsiungchelyidsGiant land turtle that lived in the time of the dinosaurs. Imagine that as long as a human is almost as tall!

Among the surprises revealed by the study: The thickness of the eggshell: 1.8 mm. About four times more than Geochelone elephantopus, a Giant Galapagos tortoise However, they are known to produce particularly thick eggs. Researchers don’t know why. May be adapting to weather Barren moment, intended to retain water in the egg. But one thing is for sure: the baby turtles of the time had to fight hard to see the light of day.

The thickness of these shells may have been – at least in part – responsible for the disappearance of these giant turtles with the dinosaurs. It is possible that they then found themselves less adapted to the new environment he createdmeteor impact.

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