150 Million-year-old turtle fossil is discovered, giving a glimpse at the past.
By: Eric Liu
In Bavaria, Germany there lies a huge sandstone deposit, in which archaeologists uncover a stone to find a preserved turtle fossil, that gives us info about what happened back then.
Over 150 million years ago that part of Bavaria was a shallow tropical place, the poor condition of the waters helped preserve many of the creatures that died there. A “pancake” turtle fossil was recently uncovered there and it gives us a glimpse into what marine life was like back then for the fossil.
What is so important and special about the pancake turtle fossil, that is called the Solnhofia Parsoni? Márton Rabi, a renowned paleontologist associated with the University of Tübingen said, “It’s the most complete and best preserved one so far.”(New York Times). With the fossil being the best preserved one so far, it can show us new information that can support or disprove theories and conclusions about the Solnhofia Parsoni.
Many of these kinds of fossils were found in the regions of Bavaria, Germany and Switzerland. Those turtle fossils were very hard to study, as they were small parts of a bigger fossil. The recently uncovered turtle fossil is a fully preserved fossil with a full skeletal structure and a complete skull, making it easier to analyze information regarding the turtle.
This fossil is so important because it sheds light on what happened back then, and what its environment was like. By analyzing this specific fossil we can find out how harsh the conditions were, and what possibly was the environment back then.
Another reason is that we can see how different these turtles are compared to the ones that we have now, and how they adapted. Laura Baisas, a Yahoo.news writer wrote, “the turtle’s forelimbs and hind limbs are comparatively short, which suggests that it lived near the coast.” (Yahoo News)
Since the turtle used to have short limbs compared to today's turtles, it shows how different today's turtles are compared to yesterday. This old turtle is hypothesized to be living near the coast, compared to most turtles, who have longer limbs and live at sea. Due to the old turtle adapting to its environment, it has changed from being a coastal turtle to a more aquatic marine turtle.
How was the turtle fossil preserved so well? The environment that the turtle lived in was a tropical archipelago, and there was something peculiar about the water. Asher Elbein, a writer for the New York Times wrote, “The hyper-saline, oxygen-poor conditions of these waters prevented scavengers from disturbing the bodies of creatures that died in the lagoons. (New York Times). The poor conditions of the water made it so that any creature that had some sort of skeletal structure and died in the lagoon would be really well preserved. Due to the environment around the fossil, it is the reason why its preserved so well compared to others.
Despite the fact that it is the best-preserved fossil, this is still not a very good fossil. Due to the environment “pancaking” it, some things are still unknown about this creature. Because this fossil is more of a complete shape, it is really hard to study its anatomy without completely breaking apart the creature. Another thing is the fact that it is too big to CT Scan, a scan that uses x-rays to determine the inside of the fossil.
With the recent 150-million-year-old turtle discovery, it can help us uncover the past, from, how the environment was like back then, how it adapted, and what physical features it has that we could compare. Even though this fossil showed us a glimpse into the past, there are still a lot things undiscovered about this type of turtle.