Fossil of oldest beaked turtle debuts in southern China
SANYA, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- A fossilized skeleton of a turtle, dating back about 228 million years to the dawn of the dinosaur era, was exhibited for the first time Thursday in Sanya, capital of south China's Hainan Province.
Found in the late Triassic deposits in Guanling County in southwest China's Guizhou Province, the turtle was named Eorhynchochelys sinensis, meaning "first turtle with a beak from China." It was featured in the August issue of the international journal Nature.
The turtle, more than two meters long, had a short trunk and no shell on its back and abdomen, said Li Chun, a paleontologist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and leader of the turtle research team.
An international team researched the skeleton, which showed that the evolutionary position of the turtle is between Odontochelys and Pappochelys, which was discovered in Germany, dating back about 240 million years. It fills a missing link in turtles' evolutionary history.
The turtle showed primitive, derived and transitional features, indicating complexity in the early stages of turtles' evolution, Li said.
The turtle is kept in the Sanya Museum of Marine Paleontology, where the exhibition was held. .