Tomasz Szczygielski, Daniel Tyborowski and Błażej Błażejowski (2017)
A new pancryptodiran turtle from the Late Jurassic of Poland and palaeobiology of early marine turtles.
Geological Journal (advance online publication)
Although Western Europe has yielded numerous Jurassic turtle taxa, several represented by cranial material or complete skeletons, the fossil record of the Jurassic turtles remains scarce to the north and east from Germany. Although some Late Jurassic testudinates were historically described from Poland, they were, thus far, represented by fragmentary remains that never were properly figured or described in detail. Therefore, very little is known about the mid-Mesozoic diversity of turtles in that region of the continent. A new pancryptodiran turtle genus and species, Owadowia borsukbialynickae, is described from the uppermost Jurassic (Tithonian, ca. 148 Ma) carbonate sediments of the Kcynia Formation in Owadów-Brzezinki Quarry, near Tomaszów Mazowiecki in central Poland. The lower jaw morphology and palaeoecological setting inhabited by the new genus and species, together with the trophic relationships of the Jurassic pancryptodiran turtles, are discussed in an attempt to determine the potential range of mode of life of O. borsukbialynickae. We propose that the new specimen belongs to a new durophagous pancryptodiran turtle taxon. O. borsukbialynickae might have spent considerable time in the marine environment and specialized on eating hard-shelled invertebrates like bivalves and decapod crustaceans, common to that setting.
Christopher J. Mayerl, Jenna E. Pruett, Morgan N. Summerlin, Angela R. V. Rivera & Richard W. Blob (2017)
Hindlimb muscle function in turtles: is novel skeletal design correlated with novel muscle function?
Journal of Experimental Biology 220: 2554-2562
Variations in musculoskeletal lever systems have formed an important foundation for predictions about the diversity of muscle function and organismal performance. Changes in the structure of lever systems may be coupled with changes in muscle use and give rise to novel muscle functions. The two extant turtle lineages, cryptodires and pleurodires, exhibit differences in hindlimb structure. Cryptodires possess the ancestral musculoskeletal morphology, with most hip muscles originating on the pelvic girdle, which is not fused to the shell. In contrast, pleurodires exhibit a derived morphology, in which fusion of the pelvic girdle to the shell has resulted in shifts in the origin of most hip muscles onto the interior of the shell. To test how variation in muscle arrangement might influence muscle function during different locomotor behaviors, we combined measurements of muscle leverage in five major hindlimb muscles with data on muscle use and hindlimb kinematics during swimming and walking in representative semiaquatic cryptodire (Trachemys scripta) and pleurodire (Emydura subglobosa) species. We found substantial differences in muscle leverage between the two species. Additionally, we found that there were extensive differences in muscle use in both species, especially while walking, with some pleurodire muscles exhibiting novel functions associated with their derived musculoskeletal lever system. However, the two species shared similar overall kinematic profiles within each environment. Our results suggest that changes in limb lever systems may relate to changes in limb muscle motor patterns and kinematics, but that other factors must also contribute to differences in muscle activity and limb kinematics between these taxa.