WASHINGTON: One of the largest turtles that ever lived lurked around 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.
The scientists said Wednesday that they have discovered new turtle fossils, called Stupendemys Geographicus, in the Tatacoa desert in Colombia and in the Urumaco region in Venezuela that for the first time provide a comprehensive understanding of the large reptile, which measures up to 13 feet (4 meters) long and 1.25 tons in weight.
Stupendemys, males, unlike females, boasted of having strong frontal horns on both sides of the shell, or shell, very close to the neck. The deep scars detected in the fossils indicated that these horns may have been used as a spear to fight with other Stupendemys males over partners or territory.
The fight occurs between certain live turtles today, particularly among male turtles, according to paleontologist Edwin Cadena of the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, who led the research published in the journal Science Advances.
Stupendemys is the second largest known turtle, behind Archelon, who lived approximately 70 million years ago at the end of the age of the dinosaurs and reached about 15 feet (4.6 meters) in length.
The first Stupendemys fossils were found in the 1970s, but there were many mysteries about the animal. The new fossils included the largest known turtle shell, 9.4 feet (2.86 meters) long, even larger than the Archelon shell, and the first remnants of the lower jaw, which gave clues about their diet.
“Stupendemys Geographicus was huge and heavy. The largest individuals of this species were approximately the size and length of a sedan car if we consider the head, neck, shell and extremities, ”said Cadena.
“Their diet was diverse, including small animals (fish, alligators, snakes), as well as mollusks and vegetation, particularly fruits and seeds. Gathering all the anatomical characteristics of this species indicates that its lifestyle was mainly at the bottom of large bodies of fresh water, including lakes and large rivers, ”added Cadena.
Stupendemys, which means “great turtle”, inhabited a colossal system of wetlands that covered Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Peru before the Amazon and Orinoco rivers formed.
Its large size may have been crucial in the defense against formidable predators. He shared the surroundings with giant crocodiles, including the 36-foot-long Purussaurus alligator (11 meters long) and the 33-foot (10 meters long) gavial relative Gryposuchus. One of the Stupendemys fossils was found with a crocodile tooth two inches long (5 cm) embedded in it.