Pig-Snouted Turtle Fossil Species Discovered In Utah

Posted: Oct 22 2015, 7:38am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 22 2015, 7:56am CDT, in Latest Science News


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Pig-Snouted Turtle Fossil Discovered in Utah
An artist’s depiction of the turtle Arvinachelys goldeni as it would have appeared in life 76 milion years ago in southern Utah. CREDIT: Victor Leshyk
  • Extinct Pig-Snouted Turtle Remains exhumed in Utah

The remains of an extinct pig-snouted turtle were exhumed in Utah. It was extant approximately 76 million years ago.

The fossil fragments of this animal show that it lived during the time the dinosaurs ruled the earth. The history of turtles extend to 250 million years in the past. Yet never before have scientists seen a pig-snouted turtle.

It is indeed a rarity and almost seems like a hoax. This slow-moving creature with a shell has a pig-like nose which is its most distinctive feature. And it was unearthed from the subterranean depths of Utah.

It is a weird find alright. Following the tracks of the dinosaurs, we come upon this turtle which is a mindboggling creature in itself. The turtle measures two feet in length from head to tail. Its shell is smooth and allows water to flow past it like air over a stream-lined car.

It probably lived in a river milieu. Approximately 76 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period, it thrived among the other flora and fauna. Utah looked more like Louisana way back then. The atmosphere was muggy and humid. And the terrain was one of waterways and plains.

Among the neighboring animals that lived alongside the pig-snouted turtle may be included: tyrannosaurs, ankylosaurs, duck-billed dinosaurs and several other species of the terrible lizards.

The fossilized remains of these dinosaurs remain imbedded in the soil of Utah. Besides the dinosaurs, the sands and humus hold relics of ancient species of crocodiles, turtles, lizards and amphibians.

Unlike other turtles which have a single opening from the front, the pig-snouted turtle has a double opening like that of a pig’s mini-proboscis. The pig-nosed turtle’s scientific name is Arvinachelys goldeni. A lot of volunteer work went into unearthing the remains of this species of turtle.

While most of the turtles that have been unearthed have a single bone or two that is in a fossilized form, the pig-anouted turtle has a skull, tail, shell and fore and hind limbs intact in its fossil. This is a good thing indeed.

That is because it helps fill in the missing links we find in the history of evolution. The relation between various species of turtles and the symbiotic web they shared with their environment will get clarified thanks to this find.

Several other clues about the terrain in those ancient times and the life that survived that particular mode of existence will be forthcoming thanks to this new discovery.

The University of Utah announced the finding in a news release Wednesday. The study was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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