Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Palaeontology

Turtle sex recorded in rock

Subjects

A pit in Germany has yielded the first fossilized evidence of mating behaviour: copulating turtles preserved about 47 million years ago.

Walter Joyce of the University of Tübingen in Germany and his colleagues analysed the remains of nine pairs of Allaeochelys crassesculpta turtles (pictured). On the basis of anatomical differences, the researchers discerned that each pair comprised one male and one female. In two of the pairs, the partners' tails were aligned, consistent with turtle mating positions.

The researchers propose that the couples began mating in the habitable surface waters of a volcanic lake and met their untimely end as they sank into deeper, toxic waters.

Credit: SENCKENBERG NATURMUSEUM FRANKFURT

Biol. Lett. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2012.0361 (2012)

Additional information

For a longer story on this research, see go.nature.com/ld1rbi

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Turtle sex recorded in rock. Nature 486, 442 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/486442a

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/486442a

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing