Everlasting intimacy

turtlesBeing intimate is one of the most exciting things that one can wish to happen in their life or experience it. However, it becomes awkward when one dies in the process and the pair gets to be preserved in that state for years until one day they are uncovered then they become a subject of discussion. Where people will struggle to justify and compete for the spot for who will be the one to deliver the best solution to it. Some decades ago a group turtles were unfortunate as they met this fate.

Palaeontologists have discovered a group of couples of the species who died and were preserved by nature in that state and it is the only of its kind among vertebrates. Looking beyond the unfortunate event that accosted the couples, this provides an insight into the condition of the environment at that time. For a long time now the Messel pit in west central Germany has provide fossils that have been well preserved over the years under the layers. These consists of full skeletons of varied sizes of different ancient creatures such as pygmy horses, rodents, insects and even feathers that still exhibit features of their original colours. An experienced palaeontologist from the University of Tubingen Germany specializing in vertebrates known as Joyce Walters says that the oily layer that engulfs the fossils comes from the lake sediments that lay on the bed of the lake. Even though many fossils have been excavated from there, site only the nine couples that occur in pairs.

Previously, the notion that they perished while having sex was only a speculation until current researchers provided more evidence to it like determining that the nine pairs consisted of males and females. Joyce further adds that the females have shorter tails than their male counterparts do as is also observed on current species of turtles. Another visible trend across the fossils is that the females are bigger than the males. Among the nine couples, seven have the edges of their shells in direct contact while for the other two; the males have wrapped their tails under the shells of the females. Tyler Lyson who is a vertebrate palaeontologist at Yale University says that even though he had heard about the theory before he only came on board with it after Joyce and her team made the latest discovery. So many theories have been put forward trying to explain the reason why they died while in that position.

Some quarters have claimed that it might be due to the toxic algal bloom that might have been present in the lake at that time. However, Joyce disputes this basis as were it the case then, there would have been a many fossils because of mass death occurring and there have been no cyanobacteria fossils that have been located in the layers that would have caused the bloom at that time. Other teams have put claim to the fact that the water on surface of the lake could have high levels of carbon dioxide and toxic materials that led to their death. Joyce’s team object this since evidence has been found pointing at existence of life in the pit, as there are fish fossils present.

On the account of Joyce’s team they claim that the as much as the surface water was high in oxygen concentration, its volume was less in the lower layers and also the concentration of carbon dioxide and toxins got higher as one went down the layers to the bottom. The well preservation comes from the fact that oxygen levels were low below. Modern day members of the same species have the ability to absorb dissolved oxygen, a feature that allows them to remain submerged for a long time. He goes further to justify his theory by stating the fact that they usually sink when they get intimate supports the idea.

Lyson agrees with them by adding that they would have died especially after descending into that environment and stayed for long. Donald Jackson who deals with animal physiology at the Brown University concurs with this by saying that the animals could have been oblivious of the surroundings around hence perishing at such depths and had the water been warm, it would result in high metabolism that starved them of oxygen after they had consumed the little that was available. It was supposed to be a good moment for the couples yet it turned out to be an ideal moment in history for researchers.