Fossil Friday 5/6/16: A turtle dentary


UF 257195, the right dentary of a turtle, possibly Rhinoclemmys panamaensis (dorsal view). Photo © VP FLMNH.

Today’s Fossil Friday post is on the dentary, or lower jaw bone, of a turtle (possibly Rhinoclemmys panamaensis) found at the Hodges Microsite locality in the Cucaracha Formation of the Panama Canal Basin. The fossil is early Miocene in age. Its large size is notable as it is larger than any modern species of Rhinoclemmys.

To learn more about this specimen, read the publication on its discovery here.


Cadena, E., Bourque, J., Rincon, A., Bloch, J.I., Jaramillo, C., and MacFadden, B. 2012 New Turtles (Chelonia) from the Late Eocene through Late Miocene of the Panama Canal Basin. Journal of Paleontology 86: 539-557. doi: 10.1666/11-106.1


Fossil Friday 10/23/15: A podocnemidid turtle


UF 242111, the right second peripheral of an podocnemidid turtle (genus indeterminate). Photo © VP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday features the peripheral of a podocnemidid turtle! This specimen was found in El Lirio Norte of the Culebra Formation and is early Miocene in age. The family Podocnemididae belongs to the suborder Pleurodira. The most common depiction of turtles shows them pulling their heads into their shells in order to escape danger (suborder Cryptodira); however, pleurodires are distinct in that they hide by pulling their head and neck to the side under an overhang of their carapace.


The twist-necked turtle Platemys platycephala is also a pleurodire (family Chelidae). In this photo, the turtle has pulled its head to the side and glances out from under the overhang of its shell. Photo ©, taken from Wikimedia.



Fossil Friday 4/24/15: A kinosternid turtle


UF 242076, a peripheral element of the plastron of Staurotypus moschus. (Photo © VP FLMNH)

This Fossil Friday we have a peripheral element of the plastron (ventral surface of the shell) of a kinosternid turtle called Staurotypus moschus. This fossil, which is early Miocene in age, was collected by Michael Kirby under the Centenario Bridge from sediments of the Cucaracha Formation. The specific name for Staurotypus moschus was chosen due to the turtle’s relatively deep anterior musk duct groove. In life, the musk duct groove would have held a gland that contained foul-smelling musk that the animal release when disturbed.

To read more about this specimen, read the publication on it here.


A photo of a modern Staurotypus salvinii, the Chiapas Giant Musk Turtle. The publication describing S. moschus claims that the fossil turtle has its closest affinities with S. salvinii. (Photo © L. A. Dawson)

Paleobotanist life for me


These past few days in the prep lab I have been reconstructing the shell of a turtle known as Pleurodira sp. It has been very exciting to see the form of the shell after all the little pieces have been glued back together. I have also been working on my research, sketching the vein characters of my leaves for easy identification. Some of the specimens are so well preserved that it seems as if a modern leaf had been glued to the rock! And the detail of the veins under the microscope leaves me speechless! Every day that passes I become more amazed with my findings.IMG_20150204_164131691

After a week of knowing my project, the paleobotany department was going to renew the student research exhibit, and I was asked to construct a poster on my research. I only had a few days to put my poster together, so I had to work fast, and last Friday it finally became part of the exhibit. In my poster I briefly explain the depositional history of the formation and describe the different morphotypes that were found in the collection (A digital copy of my poster will soon be available at this site

I am also excited for the upcoming trip to Panama, last Monday we had a meeting about the trip and learned that new fossilized leaves were discovered! I can’t wait to see them and compare them to the leaves form Tennessee.