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Image Gallery: Pile of Turtle Fossils Unearthed

Tons of Turtles

turtle fossils found in Xinjiang in China.

(Image credit: Copyright Museum für Naturkunde Berlin)

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.

Bone Bed

turtle fossils found in Xinjiang in China.

(Image credit: Copyright Museum für Naturkunde Berlin)

"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.

Washed Out

turtle fossils found in Xinjiang in China.

(Image credit: Copyright Museum für Naturkunde Berlin)

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

turtle fossils found in Xinjiang in China.

(Image credit: Copyright Museum für Naturkunde Berlin)

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.

In Plaster

Here, a block of the turtle layer in plaster for stabilization.

(Image credit: Copyright Museum für Naturkunde Berlin)

Here, a block of the turtle layer in plaster for stabilization.