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Wuhan scientists discover a prehistoric giant turtle egg — with a baby inside

The fossilized egg may have come from a turtle with a shell as long as a human’s length

A rare baby Arakan forest turtle.
A rare baby Arakan forest turtle is shown at Zoo Atlanta on Tuesday, May 1, 2007, in Atlanta.
Gene Blythe, Associated Press

Millions of years ago — we’re talking about the dinosaur era here — a turtle dropped an egg. The turtle’s shell was likely as long as a human is tall. OK. No big deal. This happens all the time.

What are the new fossil turtle baby eggs?

These turtles — known as the nanhsiungchelyids — are an extinct group of land-roaming turtles that no longer exist. And attributes about them are now being described in a new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

  • The turtles walked alongside dinosaurs during the Cretaceous period, which happened about 145 to 66 million years ago.
  • “These were not small turtles by any stretch,” said Darla Zelenitsky, an author of the new study and a paleontologist at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, according to National Geographic.

What does it mean?

Scientists said there are a number of findings to glean from the research. For one, it helps them identify other types of turtles that existed at the time of the nanhsiungchelyids. In fact, it helped the scientists identify other eggs that belong to that group too, per National Geographic.

And it shows that more eggs like this one could be found elsewhere. In fact, Zelenitsky told CBC News that this egg is the first of its kind, with more possibilities on the way.

  • “This is actually the first time that (fossil) turtle eggs or a nest really could be attributed to a particular turtle,” Zelenitsky said.