German turtle fossils discovered fornicating

One of nine mating pairs of the extinct

One of nine mating pairs of the extinct turtle. (Courtesy of Senckenberg Naturmuseum Frankfurt) (Credit: One of nine mating pairs of the extinct turtle. (Courtesy of Senckenberg Naturmuseum Frankfurt))

Nine pairs of fornicating turtle fossils have been found in Germany, frozen in time while having sex some 50 million years ago, according to a recent study published in Biology Letters.

The turtle couples, discovered in Germany's Messel Pit, are the first vertebrate fossils found in this extreme case of coitus interruptus. They apparently died mid-intercourse after entering waters poisoned by volcanic matter, according to the paper, cheekily titled "Caught in the act: the first record of copulating fossil vertebrates."

The Messel Pit was a volcanic crater lake 57 million years ago, where researchers were studying the now-extinct Allaeochelys crassesculpta species when they came across the turtle love.

"No other vertebrates have been found like this, so these are truly exceptional fossils," lead researcher Walter Joyce told MSNBC. "These fossils show that the fossil record has the potential to document even the most unlikely event if the conditions are right."

Researchers added that the turtles were no Romeo and Juliet wannabes - they perished by accident.

"The turtles initiated copulation in habitable surface waters," Joyce wrote in the paper, and "perished when their skin started to absorb poisons while sinking during their embrace into deeper portions of the lake made toxic from the build up of volcanic gases or decay of organic matter."

Certainly a climactic way to live out eternity. 

Tags: NEWS , KATHARINE ULRICH , turtles , fossils , biology , science

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