One of the most important turtles that ever lived was in regards to the dimension of a vehicle — and prowled the lakes and rivers of northern South America from about 13 million years in the past to 7 million years in the past.
Scientists stated on Wednesday they’ve unearthed new fossils of the turtle, referred to as Stupendemys geographicus, in Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert and Venezuela’s Urumaco area that for the primary time present a complete understanding of the massive reptile, which obtained as much as 4 metres lengthy and weighed as a lot as 1.25 tonnes.
Stupendemys males, in contrast to the females, boasted sturdy front-facing horns on either side of the carapace — or shell — very near the neck. Deep scars detected in the fossils indicated that these horns could have been used like a lance for preventing with different Stupendemys males over mates or territory.
Fighting happens amongst sure turtles alive at the moment, notably between male tortoises, based on paleontologist Edwin Cadena of the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota, who led the analysis printed in the journal Science Advances.
Stupendemys is the second-largest acknowledged turtle, behind seagoing Archelon, which lived roughly 70 million years in the past on the finish of the age of dinosaurs and reached about 4.6 metres in size.
The first Stupendemys fossils have been found in the 1970s however many mysteries remained in regards to the animal. The new fossils included the largest-known turtle shell — 2.86 metres lengthy, even bigger than Archelon’s shell — and the primary decrease jaw stays, which gave clues about its eating regimen.
“Stupendemys geographicus was big and heavy. The largest people of this species have been in regards to the dimension and size of a sedan vehicle if we take into consideration the pinnacle, neck, shell and limbs,” Cadena stated.
“Its eating regimen was various together with small animals — fishes, caimans, snakes — in addition to mollusks and vegetation, notably fruits and seeds. Putting collectively all of the anatomical options of this species signifies that its way of life was largely in the underside of giant freshwater our bodies together with lakes and huge rivers,” Cadena added.
Stupendemys — which means “stupendous turtle” — inhabited a colossal wetlands system spanning Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Peru earlier than the Amazon and Orinoco rivers have been shaped.
Its giant dimension could have been essential in defending in opposition to formidable predators. It shared the atmosphere with big crocodilians together with the 11-metre-long caiman Purussaurus and the 10-metre-long gavial relative Gryposuchus. One of the Stupendemys fossils was found with a 5 centimetre crocodile tooth embedded in it.