Expedition to turtle shells in China
In October 2011, palaeontologist Oliver Wings from the Museum of Natural History in Berlin continues together with scientists from the University of Tübingen (Germany), China's Jilin University, and the Paleontological Museum of Liaoning his excavations of fossil vertebrates in northwestern China.
Focus of this year’s fieldwork in the desert around the city of Shanshan near the Silk Road (Turpan Basin) are not the giant sauropod dinosaurs bones also known from that region, but Jurassic turtles. The "Mesa Chelonia" fossil site was discovered by Wings' team in 2008 and yields was is likely the largest assemblage of fossil turtles worldwide: About 150 million years ago, several thousand turtles died probably during a drought in the last remaining water hole. Their remains are now tightly packed together in the rock. Using a special rock saw, the bone-bearing layer will now be cut into blocks and subsequently prepared in China by the German team. The excellent preservation and the large number of turtles will allow the paleontologists for the first time to gain accurate insight into the complex evolution of Asian turtles.