Home Page >> WORLD 13 February 2020, Thursday 12:41

Giant battle turtle fossil unearthed in South America

Giant battle turtle fossil unearthed in South America

One of the largest turtles that ever lived prowled the lakes and rivers of northern South America from about 13 million years ago to 7 million years ago and this car-sized freshwater beast was built for battle.

Paylaş  
0
0
0
0

One of the largest turtles that ever lived prowled the lakes and rivers of northern South America from about 13 million years ago to 7 million years ago and this car-sized freshwater beast was built for battle.

Scientists said Wednesday they have unearthed new fossils of the turtle, called Stupendemys geographicus, in Colombia's Tatacoa Desert and Venezuela's Urumaco region that for the first time provide a comprehensive understanding of the big reptile, which got up to 13 feet (4 meters) long and 1.25 tons in weight.

Stupendemys males, unlike the females, boasted sturdy front-facing horns on both sides of the carapace - or shell - very close to the neck. Deep scars detected in the fossils indicated that these horns may have been used like a lance for fighting with other Stupendemys males over mates or territory.

Fighting occurs among certain turtles alive today, particularly between male tortoises, according to paleontologist Edwin Cadena of the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota, who led the research published in the journal Science Advances.

Stupendemys is the second-largest known turtle, behind seagoing Archelon, which lived roughly 70 million years ago at the end of the age of dinosaurs and reached about 15 feet in length.

The first Stupendemys fossils were found in the 1970s but many mysteries remained about the animal. The new fossils included the largest-known turtle shell 9.4 feet long, even larger than Archelon's shell and the first lower jaw remains, which gave clues about its diet.

"Stupendemys geographicus was huge and heavy. The largest individuals of this species were about the size and length of a sedan automobile if we take into account the head, neck, shell and limbs," Cadena said.

"Its diet was diverse including small animals fishes, caimans, snakes as well as mollusks and vegetation, particularly fruits and seeds. Putting together all the anatomical features of this species indicates that its lifestyle was mostly in the bottom of large freshwater bodies including lakes and large rivers," Cadena added.

Stupendemys meaning "stupendous turtle" inhabited a colossal wetlands system spanning Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Peru before the Amazon and Orinoco rivers were formed.

Its large size may have been crucial in defending against formidable predators. It shared the environment with giant crocodilians including the 36-foot-long caiman Purussaurus and the 33-foot-long gavial relative Gryposuchus. One of the Stupendemys fossils was found with a two-inch-long (5 cm) croc tooth embedded in it.


banner

Show Your Response
0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 

banner

Facebook yorum
COMMENTS
0
WAITING FOR PERMISSION
0
Iranian Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar tests positive for coronavirus
image Iran's Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has tested positive for the coronavirus, an official said on Thursday.
More than 300 people nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
image The nominees include Gretha Thunberg and the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. The list comprises 210 individuals and 107 organizations.
Climate activists win Heathrow airport legal battle
image London Heathrow airport planned to build a third runway to cope with growing air travel. But environmental activists have successfully won a court case against the expansion of one of Europe's busiest airports.