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New Turtle Species for Paleontology

The studied bones of the new turtle species. Scale bar = 10 cm. Source: Gentry et al. (2022)
The studied bones of the new turtle species. Scale bar = 10 cm. Source: Gentry et al. (2022)

On August 19th, a new article on a fossil turtle from the Alabama Museum of Natural History collection was published. Lead author Dr. Drew Gentry, Caitlín Kiernan (a current Research Associate of the UA Museums) and Dr. James Parham (former Curator of Paleontology of the UA Museums) described a new turtle genus and species called Appalachemys ebersolei as part of the Macrobaenidae family. The species is one of the largest freshwater turtles to have lived in North America, with a carapace length of ~80 cm. The turtle lived in Alabama around 84 million years ago.

An impression of how Appalachemys ebersolei may have looked like when alive. Source: Gentry et al. (2022)
An impression of how Appalachemys ebersolei may have looked like when alive. Source: Gentry et al. (2022)

When Dr. Parham worked at UA in 2010 – 2011, he recognized the importance of the specimen, but Dr. Gentry finalized the study of the specimen more than a decade later, leading to a scientific publication in the Anatomical Record. The only specimen of the species in existence (numbered ALMNH:Paleo:670 instead of ALMNH PV985.24 as the scientific article states) has now become a holotype, the single name-bearing specimen based upon which the new species was described. Due to its scientific importance, the specimen will soon be moved from the regular research collection into the type collection part of the collections, where it will remain accessible for research.



Reference:

Gentry, A.D., Kiernan, C.R., Parham, J.F., 2022. A large non-marine turtle from the Upper Cretaceous of Alabama and a review of North American “Macrobaenids”. The Anatomical Record, first published online 19 August 2022.