Paleontologists Discover Fossil Of Shell-Free Turtle In China

Sunday, September 2, 2018

When the word ‘turtle’ comes to mind, the first thing we imagine is a slow creature with a hard shell on its back. However, paleontologists in China have discovered something unique, that is, the fossil of a shell-free turtle. The fossilized turtle is 228 million years old and also has the distinct toothless beak of a turtle, which is the earliest instance to appear in the species. In addition to this, the renderings of a quite bizarre but happy-looking proto-turtle may bring forth new explanations regarding their evolution.

Chun Li, a researcher at the China Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology discovered the Eorhynchochelys sinensis, which basically means “the first turtle with a beak from China”. Earlier, there had been another discovery of a turtle having partial shell and no beak, and this discovery now helps in providing a clearer history of the turtle’s evolution. The shell free turtle also helps to settle the debate of whether it belongs to diapsids, such as snakes and lizards, or the anapsids, which is a reptile family with the absence of two holes on the side of the skulls. Paleontologist Olivier Rieppel concluded that Eorhynchochelys belongs to the evolutionarily more advanced diapsids. The authors also state that they will continue studying the fossil further in order to search for some additional answers, by gathering deeper insights.

Meanwhile, the Spanish island of Majorca, which was home to the biggest illegal tortoise and turtle farm in Europe, has been shut down by the Civil Guard. The officers said that they were able to rescue 1100 animals from the location, with many of them belonging to endangered species. The protected species were kept in pitiable conditions. Two German men, as well as a pet shop owner from Barcelona, were arrested on suspicions of operating the farm, and face charges of trafficking an endangered species, as well as money laundering. Three other people, two Germans and one Spaniard, are also under investigation. Tortoise and turtle are killed primarily for their shell, skin and meat, while people regard their eggs as a delicacy.