Tons of Turtles
Scientists have discovered some 1,800 fossilized mesa chelonia turtles from the Jurassic era in China's northwest province of Xinjiang. Shown here, a side view of the site near Shanshan in Xinjiang.
"This site has probably more than doubled the known number of individual turtles from the Jurassic," said University of Tübingen turtle expert Walter Joyce. "Some of the shells were stacked up on top of one another in the rock." Joyce added that this pile-up is called a bone bed.
Some 160 million years ago, these turtles had gathered in one of the remaining waterholes during a very dry period, awaiting rain (which came too late). 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. Here, researchers Oliver Wings and Walter Joyce cutting into turtle layer.
Tough Turtle Work
Researcher Oliver Wings cuts into the turtle layer, where he and colleagues have found 1,800 fossilized mesa chelonia turtles from the Jurassic era in Xinjiang, in China. Wings is a paleontologist and guest researcher at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.
Here, a block of the turtle layer in plaster for stabilization.
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.