The turtle that survived the Great Extinction

This 70-million-year-old fossil was unearthed in Transylvania. It is a new species of freshwater turtle. It apparently survived the extinction event that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs. It is possible that the turtles’ freshwater habitat helped them survive. The turtle that survived the great extinction must have been very hardy.

These are the remains of the turtle that survived the great extinction.
These are the remains of the tortoise that survived the great extinction.

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Appeared in Romania in the 1990s. There are almost complete sections of the carapace (upper shell) and plastron (lower shell). Also the bone of one of its arms and another of its pelvis. The new species was named Dortoka vremiri in honor of Matyas Vremir, an expert on Cretaceous vertebrates who died in 2020.

The Dortoka vremiri belongs to a group of turtles known as side-necked turtles. There are 16 living species found in South America, Africa, and Australia. Fossils of a similar species descended from ests date back to about 57 million years ago. This suggests that the D. vremiri survived the Late Cretaceous extinction event.

Water vertebrates had a better chance of surviving that great dinosaur extinction.
Water vertebrates were more likely to survive that great dinosaur extinction.


“Other members of the same tortoise family did not survive this event,” said Felix Augustin. He is a doctoral student at the University of Tübingen in Germany.

“Terrestrial vertebrates were noticeably more affected by the Late Cretaceous extinction than freshwater species.” The sentence is by Zoltan Csiki-Sava, a paleontologist at the University of Bucharest in Romania.

The basis of the terrestrial food web is plants. After the fall of the meteorite, half of the plant species on Earth died. This affected those on land. The tortoise that survived the great extinction was able to sustain itself. And then leave offspring. And only today we have to know those secrets that it keeps.

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