An Early Cretaceous Baby Turtle! – #365papers – 2017 – 117

#365papers for April 27, 2017

Shao, Yang, LI, Sun, and Zhou, 2017, The first juvenile specimen of Manchurochelys manchoukuoensis from the Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota: PeerJ 5:e3274; DOI 10.7717/peerj.3274.

What’s it about?

This paper is the description of a juvenile turtle attributed to the species Manchurochelys manchoukuoensis. The authors compare this new specimen with several other species of turtle from the Jehol Biota and other faunas of similar age to argue that 1) it is a juvenile and 2) that their species attribution is correct.

Why does it matter?

It would be a mistake to assume that all fossil that we find represent adults. But distinguishing adults from juveniles can be difficult and then assigning a juvenile fossil to the correct adult form is also very challenging. But from this, we can better understand how these fossil turtles grew.

Why did I read this?

This paper appeared on my Facebook feed. The “-chelys” part of the turtle’s name indicated that this was about a turtle, and, well, I needed a change from mammals. So I read it.

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