Ancient Fossil Of Bizarre Pig-Snouted Turtle Unearthed In Utah
World, meet Arvinachelys goldeni – a bizarre pig-snouted turtle that lived about 76 million years ago.
A fossil of the now-extinct creature was recently unearthed in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Kanab, Utah.
“It’s one of the weirdest turtles that ever lived,” said Joshua Lively, who described the new species in a paper published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology this week.
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The reptile is said to be “unlike any turtle ever found.” While all other known turtle species have just one external nasal opening in their skulls, with a fleshy division between the nostrils, the broad snout of the Arvinachelys goldeni has two bony nasal openings.
“I’ve seen a lot of turtle skulls, and my initial impression was that looked very different that any other turtle skull I’ve seen,” Lively, who studied the fossil as part of his master’s thesis at the University of Utah, told USA Today. “It was bizarre.”
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The pig-nosed turtle — whose scientific name derives from arvina, a Latin word for pig fat — is believed to have gone extinct about 42 to 45 million years ago.
The animal lived alongside tyrannosaurs, armored ankylosaurs, and giant duck-billed dinosaurs such as Gryposaurus and Parasaurolophus, according to a University of Utah news release.
The creature, which measures about two feet from head to tail, lived in an era known as the Cretaceous Period, when southern Utah is said to have looked more like Louisiana with a great many rivers, and a wet and hot climate.