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June 24, 2017

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Paleontologists catch turtles getting it on 47 million years ago

PARIS--German paleontologists have dug up the remains of nine turtle pairs that died while mating some 47 million years ago, sinking into poisonous waters while locked in a final embrace, a report said Wednesday.

The find represents the first-ever fossil record of copulating vertebrates (animals with a backbone), said a report in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.

"Millions of animals live and die every year and many enter the fossil record through serendipitous circumstances, but there really is no reason to enter the fossil record while you are mating," co-author Walter Joyce told AFP about the rarity of the find.

"The chances of both partners dying at the same time is highly unlikely and the chances of both partners being preserved afterwards even less likely."

The discovery at the Messel Pit fossil site between Darmstadt and Frankfurt in Germany allowed the team to deduct that the waters of the Messel Lake had been hospitable enough to allow turtles to live and mate.

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