Prehistoric Turtle Sex Has Scientists ExcitedBy: Shawn Hess - June 22, 2012
Not necessarily a provocative story, but some prehistoric turtle sex has scientists in Germany very excited.
Found at the bottom of a rock quarry, which was once a lush tropical environment 50 million years ago, the two turtle fossils are the first known vertebrates to be found copulating.
Researchers speculate the two love birds were too busy getting it on to notice they were already caught in a sinking trap. The prehistoric tropical lake most likely contained toxic fumes or volcanic gases that were hazardous to the turtles.
These are relatively small turtles by today’s standard, the male (pictured on the right) is only about 8 inches long. The closest living relative to this species is the pig-nosed turtle from Australia and New Guinea, but they are much larger in size.
Walter Joyce of the University of Tübingen in Germany, and lead researcher on the project comments on the discovery:
“The turtles likely ate anything they found swimming near the surface of the lake — mostly insects, small crustaceans and fruit,”
“We do not have any evidence of predation of adult turtles, but it is likely that they had to look out for the crocodilians that lived in the same lake.”
“No other vertebrates have ever been found like these, so these are truly exceptional fossils,”
“The chances of both partners dying while mating are extremely low, and the chances of both partners being preserved as fossils afterward even lower. These fossils show that the fossil record has the potential to document even the most unlikely event if the conditions are right.”
So there you have it, prehistoric turtle sex is an eye-opening experience for some scientists in Germany. MSNBC has the full story on the discovery and Joyce’s research.