A giant fossilized turtle egg — believed to have been laid by a turtle the length of a fully grown human 90 million years ago — has been found with the embryo inside.
The tennis ball-sized egg, which is protected by an unusually thick outer shell, was found in 2018 by a farmer in China’s Henan Province, who sent it to a university for analysis.
The research team, which included scientists from the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, the Henan Geological Museum and Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum, carried out CT scans on the egg.
The scans revealed that within the thick fossilized shell, a turtle embryo that was 85 per cent developed had been preserved.
Further examination revealed that the embryo was probably a member of the Yuchelys nanyangensis species, which went extinct during the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago. The fossilized find is also believed to be part of the Nanhsiungchelyidae, an extinct family of land turtles from the Cretaceous period that were native to Asia and North America.
Such turtles were flat-shelled and lived on dry land, which was unusual at the time, said Darla Zelenitsky, a researcher from the Canada’s University of Calgary.