DENVER (CBS4) – Researchers at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science helped uncover a prehistoric turtle species. Dr. Tyler Lyson and Dr. David W. Krause are among the authors published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

A rendering of the newly discovered turtle species (Sahonachelys mailakavava) preying upon young larvae of a giant Madagascan frog (Beelzebufo ampinga) using specialized suction feeding. (credit: Andrey Atuchin)

The researchers made the discovery based on a nearly complete skeleton recovered from the Maevarano Formation in northwestern Madagascar. The new species of pelomedusoid turtle is named Sahonachelys mailakavava. 

Photograph of Sahonachelys mailakavava skull (credit: Royal Society Publishing)

The fossilized turtle shell and cranium feature a large number of unique characters, according to researchers. The article suggests that the turtle was an aquatic, suction-feeding species that fed upon moving prey.

Photograph and line drawing of Sahonachelys mailakavava shell (credit: Royal Society Publishing)

“The specialized feeding strategy further highlights the uniqueness of Late Cretaceous Madagascan faunas, as no other crown pelomedusoid is known to have developed this method of prey capture,” the article notes.

Map of the Mahajanga Basin of northwestern Madagascar (credit: Royal Society Publishing)

Over the last 30 years, paleontologists have uncovered a series of fossils from Madagascar’s Maevarano Formation. Researchers say the discoveries provide important insights into the evolution of ecosystems in that part of the world.