Scientists Unearth Fossil of Ancient Pig-Snouted Turtle

Posted on October 21, 2015

Arvinachelys goldeni

The fossil of a 76-million-year-old previously unknown species of pig-snouted turtle has been unearthed in Utah. It was discovered in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by researchers from the Natural History Museum of Utah.

The turtle was about 2 feet long. It had a streamlined shell adapted for its riverine environment. The climate of Utah was wet and hot when during the time of the pig-snouted turtle. The turtle would have lived alongside tyrannosaurs, ankylosaurs and giant duck-billed dinosaurs.

The snout of the newly discovered turtle species is unlike any other known turtle. The snout has two bony nasal openings. All other known turtle species have just one external nasal opening in their skulls. The turtle has been given the name Arvinachelys goldeni. The name is derived from arvina, a Latin word for pig fat or bacon, and chelys, which is Latin for tortoise. The goldeni named honors Jerry Golden, a volunteer fossil preparator at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Golden prepared the new holotype specimen.

Joshua Lively, who described the new species in a research paper, says in a statement, "It's one of the weirdest turtles that ever lived. It really helps add to the story emerging from dinosaur research carried out at the Natural History Museum of Utah."

A research paper on the newly discovered species was published here in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Here is a CT scan of Arvinachelys goldeni's skull:

Image: Victor Leshyk

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