A fossil sea turtle (Reptilia, Pan-Cheloniidae) with preserved soft tissues from the Eocene Fur Formation of Denmark
Summary, in English
A new hard-shelled sea turtle (Pan-Cheloniidae) with vestigial soft tissues from the lower Eocene (Ypresian) Fur Formation of Denmark is described and illustrated. The fossil (DK 807) comprises a partial, yet fully articulated carapace (estimated original length ∼50 cm) where the individual bones mostly are preserved in three dimensions, together with an intact sacrum, a consecutive series of articulated caudal vertebrae, a complete pelvic girdle, and both hind limbs. Primitive characters in the pelvis and limbs, along with free ribs that contact the posterior peripherals suggest affinity with the extinct pan-cheloniid Eochelone; however, because of the incomplete nature of the fossil, DK 807 is kept in open nomenclature. Associated with the skeletal elements are soft-tissue residues that include remnant epidermal scutes and a nearly complete outline of a rear paddle. The flipper-shaped halo likely represents traces of skin preserved as a dark bedding-parallel film. Its wrinkled and striated surface texture attests to an originally scaleless configuration comparable to the soft integument of living adult dermochelyid (leatherback) turtles, and unlike that of extant cheloniids. Scratches, scars and indentations on the bony carapace likely represent incompletely healed bite marks inflicted by a crocodylian or another large-sized seagoing tetrapod.
- Lithosphere and Biosphere Science
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
- Preservation and fossilization of reptile skin and other soft tissue structures in marine and lacustrine environments
- ISSN: 0272-4634