Mating Turtles Are Our Favorite Fossil

Senior Contributor

You are not hallucinating, that is really a fossil of turtles boning. And that is a genuine fossil, found in the Messel Pit, a German quarry that was a volcanic lake back in the day and is now a place you can basically walk into, throw a rock, and find an interesting relic of the biosphere.

Apparently, this species, Allaeochelys crassesculpta, valued boning above all else, because six pairs of fossils have been found in the Messel Pit. These are, by the way, the only fossils we have of copulating animals, something the scientific community is secretly grateful for because nobody wants to think about dinosaur wangs. So how did they happen?

As we mentioned, the Messel Pit was a volcanic lake, and the bottom of those are usually rife with toxic chemicals, like carbon dioxide. Turtles, when they mate, start on the surface and sink under. So, when these horny hardshells hit bottom, they were unable to breathe and died in an awkward position.

So, when having sex in a lake, bring scuba gear, that’s the moral of this story.

image courtesy New Scientist

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