Turtles killed, fossilized while doing it

Teenagers, beware! Here is another very good reason to never, ever have sex. Like these 50-million-year-old turtles, you could get so caught up in the act, that you don't notice you are sinking into a bog full of toxic volcanic gasses. It's a real risk! This happened to more than one pair of filthy, sex-having turtles. And condoms will not save you.

The researchers analyzed nine pairs of the turtles. Each pair was apparently made up of a male and a female — the females are slightly larger than males, have shorter tails and apparently had a hinged lower shell that may have helped them lay large eggs.

In addition, the turtles in each pair always had their rear ends oriented toward one another. Finally, in two of the pairs, "the tails of the partners are aligned with each other," Joyce said. "This is the very position in which the tails are held when living turtles mate. This observation is the true smoking gun.

"No other vertebrates have ever been found like these, so these are truly exceptional fossils," Joyce said.

Read the rest of Charles Q. Choi's story at MSNBC

Via Emily Anthes


  1. Would today’s world be noticeably different had these turtles been productive? Would our planet now be dominated by lizard-people?

  2. For the first few millennia of creation, God was able to keep Himself amused by smiting turtles for their sinful, lust-ridden ways, but eventually the novelty wore off and He had to create Man in order to give Himself something new to do.

  3. The observation that “the turtles didn’t notice…” is pure supposition.  It is equally likely that two turtles found they were sinking in a bog full of toxic gas and decided to make the most of their last moments. 

  4. Seriously, turtles are the randiest animals on earth. We have a lot of Eastern box turtles in our neighborhood, and more often than not whenever you come across them, their “paired.” Also: I once took the kids the the zoo, and I’ll tell you, when those Galapagos tortoises get it on….

    I’m only surprised that most of the turtle fossils found aren’t like this!

    When I come back, I want to be a turtle. No problem finding housing, live for a 100 years or so, and spend the majority of that time doing the dirty. I mean, what’s the downside?

  5. I read the headline as “Turtles as a whole committed turtle murder, and here is a fossil of such a murder in progress”.

    1. Alternately, “Turtles, during the act of coitus,  murdered and fossilized [their victims.]”

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