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Turtles Fossilized in the Act of Love-Making.

Scientists uncovered organic remains of mating turtles at the Messel Pit in Germany. This is the first case ever where vertebrates with backbones were found fossilized during copulation. 

The turtles belonged to the 47 million year old extinct class of species called Allaeochelys Crassesculpta. These turtles were about 20 centimetres that is about 8 inches long. The Messel Pit from where they were excavated was once the site of a volcanic lake that contained black oil shale. Over the years it has been given the Unesco World Heritage status because of its paleontological significance.

Image courtesy : Naturmuseum Senckenberg in Frankfurt (image source)

As per the researchers, nine male-female pairs of turtles were found. The females were slightly larger than the males, had shorter tails and a hinged lower shell that helped them lay large eggs. In two cases the tails were aligned in a position that indicates the close contact of a mating stance. According to the lead researcher Walter Joyce, a fossil turtle expert at the University of Tubingen in Germany, the turtles might have begun mating in the habitable surface water of the Messel lake, stopped swimming, and sank deep into the abyss which might have posed as a toxic and deadly trap due to increase in volcanic gases and poisonous decaying organic matter and this might have proved fatal for the mating turtles.
[sources: 1,2]


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