The fossil of a primitive turtles species found in France offers valuable data about the only species that managed to survive in the northern hemisphere in the aftermath of the mass extinction event, which took place more than 66 million years ago.
A team of researchers analyzed the fossil and made some exciting discoveries. The small animal had a length of 60 centimeters (or 24 inches), and they could not retract their head under the shell, a trait that is quite common among many modern turtles.
At this point, their remarkable ability to survive has remained a puzzle for researchers. The species has been classified as Laurasichersis relicta.
Turtles that are closer to the contemporary species have also survived during the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction, which was sparked by a meteor that crashed into the surface of the planet.
Ancient Species of Turtles Survived the 5th Mass Extinction
However, while the primitive turtles lived during the same timeframe, they were unable to adapt to the shifting environment. As mentioned before, one of the most significant weaknesses was represented by the fact that they could not retract their head under the shell, which would have increased the protection against predators. Their shells were also made out of several pieces.
Many of the ancestors of the modern turtles could retract their head within the shell, which gave them a competitive edge. Data collected from the fossils infers that the body of the turtles featured hard spikes along the neck, legs, and tails. The defensive trait kept some predators away, along with a strong shell that was quite difficult to track. \
Interestingly, no other fossil sites have been found, and the factor that leads to their extinction remains a mystery for now. Laurasia inspired the name of the species. In time the massive continent broke into several fragments that form the northern hemisphere.