Ancient turtle with a frog face sucked down its prey millions of years ago


Paleontologists in Madagascar recently discovered an exceptionally well-preserved fossil of a new and extinct species of turtle, dating back to the late Cretaceous Period, which began around 100 million years ago. The newly discovered species would have had a frog-like face and eaten by sucking in mouthfuls of prey-filled water.

The ancient turtle was a freshwater species endemic to Madagascar, with a shell length of around 10 inches (25 centimeters). It had a flattened skull, rounded mouth and large tongue bones, all of which would have made it a great suction feeder and given it an amphibian-like appearance. In a new study describing the species, the researchers named it Sahonachelys mailakavava, which means « quick-mouthed frog turtle » in Malagasy, the language spoken by Indiginous people of Madagascar.