Recent scientific fieldwork led by researchers from the Natural History Museum and UCL on Skye, an island off the north-western coast of Scotland, discovered a block of rock containing articulated fossils that have been recognised as a new species of primitive turtle Eileanchelys waldmani.
Months of work by specialist preparators at the Natural History Museum freed these skeletons from the rock, revealing four well-preserved turtles and the remnants of at least two others. These remains, and a beautiful skull found nearby, represent the most complete Middle Jurassic turtle described to date, offering substantial new insights into the early evolution of turtles and how they diversified into the varied forms we see today.
Investigation into the palaeoecology of the area – the relationship between these ancient turtles and their environment – shows that these turtles lived in conditions that were very different to modern-day Skye. The turtles were found alongside fossils of other aquatic species such as sharks and salamanders that would have lived in a landscape made up of low-salinity lagoons and freshwater floodplain lakes and pools.
Jérémy Anquetin, a French PhD student at the Natural History Museum and UCL who led the description, commented "Although the majority of modern turtles are aquatic forms, it has been convincingly demonstrated that the most primitive turtles from the Triassic, around 210 million years ago, were exclusively terrestrial. Until the discovery of Eileanchelys, we thought that adaptation to aquatic habitat might have appeared among primitive turtles but we had no fossil evidence of that. Now, we know for sure that there were aquatic turtles around 164 million years ago. This discovery also demonstrates that turtles were more ecologically diverse early in their history that had been suspected before."
The fieldwork was funded by the National Geographic Society and the research is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences today. The Eileanchelys waldmani specimens are housed in the collections of National Museums Scotland.
Claudine Fontana | alfa
Programming cells with computer-like logic
27.07.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics
27.07.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.
Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine