Farmer Discovers Prehistoric Turtle Egg With An Embryo Inside

Scientists discovered a prehistoric giant turtle egg with an embryo still inside, thanks to the help of a local farmer.

According to National Geographic, a farmer in North China had a small collection of fossilized eggs, which were commonly found in the area.

However, one of them happened to be quite unique.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A pair of paleontologists, Fenglu Han and Haishui Jiang, were lucky enough to examine the collection of fossils and spotted one that they wanted to take in for closer examination.

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As it turns out, the fossilized egg happened to be a prehistoric giant turtle egg with an embryo still inside.

According to a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the fossil is believed to be from an extinct Nanhsiungchelyidae turtle and is “one of the largest and thickest shelled Mesozoic turtle eggs known.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The turtle was the largest turtle is ever live. Their shells could have been as tall as a grown man.

There’s not a ton known about the extinct dinosaur turtles, but scientists do know it ate plants. However, this new discovery of the embryo could shed light on the mysterious life of the turtles from 144 to 66 million years ago.

The study states: “The thick-shelled, spherical eggs of nanhsiungchelyids may have been an adaptation, at least in part, to incubation in harsh arid environments.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

They went on to explain that that rigid shell “limits the movement of water outside the eggshell to prevent excess water loss of the egg during incubation.”

National Geographic reported that the baby turtle would’ve had to be quite strong to break out of such a thick shell.


While nanhsiungchelyids are extinct, we can see a potentially similar turtle in the giant tortoises of the Galapagos. They’re also large, plant-eaters.

It’s possible that with further study of the fossilized egg and embryo, we’ll be able to learn more about prehistoric life – how incredible!

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