The discovery made by a farmer three years ago became a unique finding for the scientific community. Back in 2018, an egg was found and donated to a university. After analyzing it, researchers can now be sure that the egg belonged to a turtle known as Yuchelys nanyangenis, who lived in the dinosaur-age.
The turtle lived in the region that is now the central part of China, and the egg was laid around 90 million years ago. Its size was similar to that of a tennis ball, and it was perfectly preserved for all these years, allowing researchers to examine the embryo as well. The embryo was 85 percent developed and there is a chance that it tried to hatch at one point, as the eggshell is partly broken.
The egg looks almost like a perfect sphere, with 2.1 by 2.3 inches in size, similar to a tennis ball. The shell is 0.07 inches thick and it was one of the factors that helped the egg preserve to this day. Based on the proportions of the egg, researchers estimate that the turtle had a carapace that was 5.3-foot-long. Adding to this the length of its head, it is very likely that the turtle was human-sized.
“Turtle eggs containing embryos are exceedingly rare in the fossil record. Here, we provide the first description and taxonomic identification, to our knowledge, of a fossilized embryonic turtle preserved in an egg,” explains the study. The species of turtles went extinct 66 million years ago. Researchers believe that the reasons for that were the radical changes in the environment, as well as the new climate. The area in which the egg was found is well known for multiple discoveries of dinosaur eggs ever since the 1990s.