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Harrisburg University professor discovers and names a 5-million-year-old “horned” turtle

  • Aniya Faulcon
The horned turtle or Chrysemys Corniculata

 Sergey Krasovskiy

The horned turtle or Chrysemys Corniculata

Airdate: January 17, 2023

A Harrisburg University of Science and Technology professor discovered and named a 5-million-year-old “horned” turtle that’s extinct and is entirely new to science.

Dr. Steven Jasinski, environmental sciences and sustainability professor, joined us on The Spark Tuesday to share how he discovered the fossil species of the horned turtle, his passion behind his work, and what his discovery will mean for the world of science.

Jasinski said, he found fossils of the horned turtle at the Gray Fossil Site, which preserves a five-million-year-old ecosystem that was home to tapirs, rhinos, red pandas, and many more extinct species. One of the most common fossil animals found at the site are turtles.

From his research, he said, he knew what he found was different than anything that was discovered before.

The fossil has been identified as a long-extinct member of the horned painted turtle family. The horned turtle, which Dr. Jansinki named Chrysemys Corniculata, has a pair of “point projections” that grow out of the front edge of their shells.

Jasinski said, climate change is one of the main reasons the horned turtle is extinct today and why many other turtle species are endangered. He hopes his discovery will be another call to be proactive with turtle conservation rather than reactive. On the bright side, this new discovery will help scientists to unravel the ancient history of these reptiles.

Not only is this discovery a win for the world of science but its also a win for Harrisburg University.

“I think, if nothing else, part of what we get for Harrisburg University in particular, is it helps expand the profile and show that Harrisburg University, the professors within it and the individuals are conducting research that are helping push these scientific narratives and the idea of this information much further,” Jasinski said. “Oftentimes what I hope is that it also expands the interests of the students. Even if they don’t want to do the exact same research, if it helps expand that interest and allows them to think about that moving forward in whatever they do, I think that’s a win.”




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