Scientists from the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan discovered a fossilized egg in a giant prehistoric turtle.
The turtles discovered, also known as the nanhsiungchelyids, are an extinct group of turtles that grew to momentous sizes and walked the Earth together with the dinosaurs during the Cretaceous period that spanned from 145-66 million years ago. The turtle that was found was exceptionally huge and its shell is as long as an average person’s height, the team estimated.
Darla Zelenitsky, author of the new study and a paleontologist at the University of Calgary in Canada said, “These were not small turtles by any stretch.”
Scientists also explained that it is rare to discover fossil embryos from any creature. The tissues and bones of any developing animal breaks down over time. Only few fossil turtle embryos were discovered and none of which are preserved well enough for scientists to place them in the turtle family tree. This latest discovery helped the researchers identify other turtle eggs that belong to the same group.
Many conclusions can be drawn from the fossil but the discovery is a promising hint that there are more waiting to be found, according to Tyler Lyson, associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, who was not part of the study team. “It’s only a matter of time.”