Foxemys trabanti

Named after the everlasting Trabant 601 field cars used by our research group this is the best known turtle species from Iharkút and also one of the most common element of the fauna. The osteology of Foxemys trabanti is very well known by a series of skulls, lower jaws, partial shells, limb bones and vertebrae. It was a relatively large (70-80 cm long) aquatic turtle with a heavy and well-ossified shell and broad triturating surfaces in the skull which is suggestive of a durophagus diet (preying on hard-shelled animals, such as snails or bivalves). F. trabanti belonged to side-neck turtles, a group that retracts their head horizontally to the side instead of vertically, originating in the South-American part of the ancient Gondwanan supercontinent. The closest relatives of Foxemys, the bothremydids, are now extinct but some more distantly related living forms (Podocnemididae) are still present in northern South-America and Madagascar. However, during the Cretaceous bothremydids had a much wider distribution also including North America, Africa, Madagascar, India and Europe. Foxemys trabanti most likely represents a southern element in the Iharkút fauna that migrated to Europe from North Africa. Similar turtles have been also named in younger sediments in France and Spain but F. trabanti is considered to be endemic to the Iharkút fauna.

Figure 1. Skull of the bothremydid side-neck turtle, Foxemys trabanti (right) and one of its closest living relatives, the brasilian Podocnemis unifilis.
Figure 1. Skull of the bothremydid side-neck turtle, Foxemys trabanti (right) and one of its closest living relatives, the brasilian Podocnemis unifilis.
Figure 2. Postcranial elements of Foxemys trabanti, including an anterior lobe of the ventral shell (plastron, A), posterior part of the plastron (B), girdle elements (C,D) and a humerus (E). Scale bar: 1 cm.
Figure 2. Postcranial elements of Foxemys trabanti, including an anterior lobe of the ventral shell (plastron, A), posterior part of the plastron (B), girdle elements (C,D) and a humerus (E). Scale bar: 1 cm.
Figure 3. Life reconstruction of Foxemys trabanti.
Figure 3. Life reconstruction of Foxemys trabanti.
Figure 4. Phylogenetic relationships of Foxemys trabanti and the historical biogeography of bothremydids during the Cretaceous to Paleogene. Several bothremydids were adapted to near-shore marine habitat which likely contributed to their wide distribution (after Rabi et al. 2012).
Figure 4. Phylogenetic relationships of Foxemys trabanti and the historical biogeography of bothremydids during the Cretaceous to Paleogene. Several bothremydids were adapted to near-shore marine habitat which likely contributed to their wide distribution (after Rabi et al. 2012).

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