STL Science Center

STL Science Center

08 March 2013

Toxic Shells?

Discovered at Keystone Gallery
Toxochelys is a sea turtle genus. There have been a few sites that have compared the genus to Loggerhead turtles and a few that have compare it to modern Green sea turtles. I like the Green sea turtle comparison personally. The shells of the Toxochelys turtles, there are four species in the genus- T. bauri, T. browni,T. latiremis, and T. weeksi- are much more solid, and therefore heavier, than other Cretaceous sea turtles of the Western Interior Seaway. Archelon, if we remember, had a strutted carapace that had either stretched leather or dermal/osteo scuting that has since been lost or simply not preserved with any discovered fossils. The carapace of the Toxochelys turtles, however, was only semi-strutted with a solid carapace shelf extending from the midline laterally and covering approximately half of the dorsal shell area of the adult turtle. Scutes around the edge of the shell border were also thicker than those we see in Archelon specimens. The enhanced defensive capabilities of these shells and the spreading of multiple species of turtle within the genera show that this was a successful turtle. In fact, Toxochelys constitutes the most often discovered genus of turtle, with one species, T. latiremis, accounting for many of those specimens, in the state of Kansas; another qualified testament to their prolific populations. The average Toxochelys was about 6ft (2m) long with an estimated mass of approximately 23.1lbs (10.5kg); weight estimates were based on a 17 x 18 inch (44 x 45cm) carapace average.

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