Turtles and Toads

Quick note: turtles are reptiles (think scaly skin) and frogs are amphibians (think slimy).

In an article that came out yesterday in Biology Letterspaleontologists described nine fossilized turtle couples, all male and female, that died while copulating and were preserved.  These fossils were discovered in west-central Germany in a fossil site dating to about 47 million years ago, during the Eocene epoch (56 to 34 million years ago). The current hypothesis about how they died while copulating is that as the turtles mated, they began to sink in the lake, which occurs with some modern-day species as well. The researchers hypothesize that the deeper portions of the lake were low in oxygen but the surface was perfectly fine, and so as the turtles sank they essentially suffocated while copulating. This is all very speculative, but it seems to make sense.

In other news, a Sri Lankan species of toad long thought to be extinct was re-discovered! It seems that researchers who had looked for this species in the past had just mistaken it for a more common species of toad. So it’s a good day for herpetologists (people who study amphibians and reptiles)!

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