Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Turtle Fossils

While I'm on the subject of fossils...
The BBC has some interesting pics of fossil turtles.

This one is a juvenile:

From the accompanying article:

Representatives of the turtle lineage are known from the fossil record as far back as 200 million years. But these examples look more like tortoises, suggesting they were still very much adapted to life on land.

The latest find has front feet shaped like paddles, much like modern turtles.

Which kind of sounds like a transitional fossil to me, but I coould be wrong.

"Tortoises have very short foot bones and not very much soft tissue," lead author Sarah Fielding, of the school of Earth and environmental sciences at Portsmouth, told the BBC News website.

"This specimen has slightly longer foot bones and quite a lot of webbing in between."

Nope, I was right...

"We're fortunate the deposit it was found in has fine mud which has preserved the webbing - which is quite rare for turtles."

But the hind feet in this specimen seem to be more tortoise-like, suggesting this creature was not fully adapted to a marine lifestyle and spent some significant amount of time on land.

Researchers determined the turtle was a new species, which they named Araripemys arturi.