Washington: A look at the fossilized remains of animals from the dinosaur period has revealed how the Boremys river turtle survived it while most were wiped out by a meteorite strike 65 million-years-ago.
The fossilized remains of the creatures, found by American palaeontologists in rock formations in North Dakota and Montana, date to a period just after the meteorite strike.
Scientists say the secret to their survival is not because of their hard shells, but rather because they were not greedy.
Their slow metabolisms meant they were able to survive on meagre rations on Earth’s post-meteor-strike wastelands. They were also protected by their aquatic homes.
“Turtles are very tough animals, if times get tough they can go into a state of animation,” the Daily Mail quoted researcher Tyler Lyson of Yale University as telling Live Science.
“Animals that were living in the water were kind of protected against whatever killed the land plants and the dinosaurs,” he said.
The dinosaur-killing meteorite was between six and nine miles wide and slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico at around 50,000 mph, releasing something in the order of 100 million megatons of energy.
While most land-based animals were wiped out, including turtles, the Boremys turtles, specifically from the Baenid family, survived.
“If you only looked at turtles across this boundary you wouldn’t think there was an extinction. Small animals that have a slow metabolism and live in the water do very well across the K-T boundary,” Lyson told Live Science.
“In the water, before and after the boundary, it was business as usual,” he added.
However, these hardy creatures eventually died out around 40 million years ago, after a stay of around 85 million years on earth.
Scientists suspect that they were killed off by predators because they weren’t able to retract their heads into their shells as modern-day turtles can.