Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ancient mother spawns new insight on reptile reproduction

01.09.2008
Researchers discover first prehistoric pregnant turtle and nest of eggs in badlands of Alberta, Canada

A 75-million-year-old fossil of a pregnant turtle and a nest of fossilized eggs that were discovered in the badlands of southeastern Alberta by scientists and staff from the University of Calgary and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology are yielding new ideas on the evolution of egg-laying and reproduction in turtles and tortoises.

It is the first time the fossil of a pregnant turtle has been found and the description of this discovery was published today in the British journal Biology Letters.

The mother carrying the eggs was found in 1999 by Tyrrell staff while the nest of eggs was discovered in 2005 by U of C scientist Darla Zelenitsky, the lead author of the article and an expert on fossil nest sites, and her field assistant. Both were found about 85 km south of Medicine Hat in the Manyberries area.

"Although it is relatively rare to find the eggs and babies of extinct animals, it is even rarer to find them inside the body of the mother," says Darla Zelenitsky, who was also involved in the first discovery of a dinosaur with eggs inside its body.

It was almost by accident that scientists realized that the fossil turtle was pregnant.

"The turtle specimen was partly broken when it was first discovered. It is this fortuitous break that revealed that the fossil was a mother," says François Therrien, a co-investigator of the study and curator of dinosaur palaeoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

The remains of at least five crushed eggs were visible within the body of the fossil female and a CT scan exposed more eggs hidden under its shell. The turtle, estimated to be about 40 cm long, could have produced around 20 eggs. The nest, which was laid by a different female, contained 26 eggs, each approximately 4 cm in diameter.

Both specimens belong to an extinct turtle called Adocus, a large river turtle that lived with the dinosaurs and resembles today's slider and cooter turtles.

The eggs of Adocus are extremely thick and hard, whereas those of most modern turtles are either thinner or soft-shelled. The thick eggshell may have evolved to protect the eggs from desiccation in dry environments or to protect them from voracious predators during the time of the dinosaurs.

Zelenitsky says the pregnant turtle specimen and the nest shed light on the evolution of reproductive traits of modern turtles, specifically those traits related to their eggs and nests.

"Based on these fossils, we have determined that the ancestor of living hidden-necked turtles, which are most of today's turtles and tortoises, laid a large number of eggs and had hard, rigid shells," says Therrien.

Leanne Yohemas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucalgary.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>