More information about past evolution could always be helpful for the future, including the prehistoric turtle with a pig snout that bridges a gap in history for its species. What has been named as the “weirdest turtle that ever lived” was recently discovered. And, apparently, it did have a set of unique features.
Researchers from the National History Museum from Utah were digging through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument when they unearthed fossils of the odd reptile. Kanab, Utah, thus became the home of the pig-snouted turtle. It’s an unique find with an interesting history, shrouded in mystery due to the limited information.
The team of researchers were fortunate enough to recover a skull, shell, a nearly complete forelimb, partial hind limb, as well as some vertebrae from the animal’s neck and tail. This provided exceptional but limited information on the unique specimen. It filled a significant gap along the 250 million years worth of history for the species.
Named Arvinachelys goldeni, or the pig-snouted turtle, the reptile lived 76 million years ago, in the Late Cretaceous period. This dates it as far back as dinosaurs, which means it lived around the same time with famous species such as the Tyrannosaurs rex, armored ankylosaus, and duck-billed dinosaurs like Gryposaurus and Parasaurolophus. It adds yet another animal roaming the Earth, and paints a better picture of a distant past.
The pig-snouted turtle was 2 feet in length, measured from head to tail, with an armored shell that was perfect for its environment. It should also be noted that its name derives from ‘arvina’, the Latin word for ‘pig fat’, or ‘bacon’. So, its nostrils were the most remarkable feature.
Almost all other turtles on record have one nasal opening in their skull, that was further separated into two nostrils. This is over the course of hundreds of millions of years. However, A. goldeni presented itself with two wide nostrils. Separated, it looked like today’s pig snout.
According to lead author of the study, Joshua Lively, the new species of turtle bridges the gap of evolutionary history for turtles. It underlines and confirms a theory of a separation and evolutionary isolation among two different parts of western North America. It was once an isolated island continent, called Lamidia, cut down from the eastern part by a sea.
The discovery does not only help to find how certain species of turtles are related, but how they reacted to issues such as climate change. This will aid in future studies, when scientists will try to figure out how our current situation will impact on them.
Image source: sci-news.com