Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Earth Sciences Faculty News Institute for the Study of Earth and Man

Tough Turtle: Dino-Killing Asteroid Spared Sea Creature

Live Science

Originally Posted: November 8, 2016

Shortly after an asteroid smashed into Earth about 65.5 million years ago, obliterating much of life on Earth,an ancient sea turtle with a triangular-shaped head swam along the relatively arid shores of southern Africa, a new study finds.

The creature, a newly identified species, lived about 64 million years ago during the Paleocene, an epoch within the Paleogene period, the researchers said. The animal is closely related to earlier seaturtles that lived before the asteroid struck, an event known as the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary, which marks the mass extinction that killed about 75 percent of all species on Earth, including the nonavian dinosaurs.

“If these sea turtles do, in fact, form a tightly knit group, evolutionarily speaking, then the [African] specimen provides proof that members of that group survived the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous,” study lead researcher Timothy Myers, a research assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Texas, told Live Science in an email. [See Photos of the Ancient Sea Turtle from Angola] READ MORE