Weird Pig-Nosed Turtle From Dinosaur Era Discovered In Utah

Posted: Oct 22 2015, 3:51am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 22 2015, 3:57am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Weird Pig-Nosed Turtle from Dinosaur Era Discovered in Utah
Credit: Victor Leshyk, University of Utah

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The turtle lived 76 million years ago and is one of the weirdest in long evolutionary history of turtles

Archeologists have unearthed something unusual in the region of Southern Utah and it’s an extinct species of pig-like nose turtle which lived around 76 million years ago, same era when dinosaurs were roaming on Earth.

Researchers are identifying it as one of the weirdest discoveries in ‘250 million-year evolutionary history of turtles.’ The new turtle species had two nasal openings unlike other turtle ever discovered which had just one nasal opening in their skulls.

“It‘s one of the weirdest turtles that ever lived,” said lead author Joshua Lively. “It really helps add to story emerging from dinosaur research carried out at the Natural History Museum of Utah.”

The analysis of fossil remains indicates that ancient turtle was about 2 feet long and was adapted for living on riverine ecosystem. It was the time when Earth moved into cretaceous period. Climate was hot and wet and Earth was covered with rivers, swampy sections and low-flooded areas.

This is not the only animal living in the area. The region of Southern Utah has already yield a number of fossil remains from different species of dinosaurs to crocodiles, lizards and amphibians. This is also one of the most complete turtle skeleton ever found which includes skull, shell, nearly complete forelimbs, partial hindlimbs, vertebrae from neck and tail.

Researchers believed that this finding can serve as missing link between understanding the evolution of turtles.

"With only isolated skulls or shells, we are unable to fully understand how different species of fossil turtles are related, and what roles they played in their ecosystems," said Randall Irmis, curator of paleontology at Natural History Museum of Utah and one of researchers involved in the study. “This latest finding, though, shows an extraordinary amount of detail, which may help researchers link it to other fossils.”

Many barriers trigged at the end of the Cretaceous period like climate change and rising sea levels. The deposit will also help understand how different species of that period dealt with persistent changes and how the survival of modern animals and ecosystems can be ensured using this information.

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