One of the largest turtles that ever lived in the lakes and rivers of North South America 13 to 7 million years ago – and this car-sized freshwater animal was built for combat.
Scientists said on Wednesday they discovered new turtle fossils called Stupendemys geographicus in the Colombian Tatacoa Desert and Venezuela's Urumaco region, which for the first time provide a comprehensive understanding of the large reptile, which is up to 4 meters long and 1 Weight was 25 tons.
In contrast to the females, Stupendemy's males had strong horns on either side of the shell – or the shell – very close to the neck. Deep scars discovered in the fossils indicated that these horns were used like a lance to fight with other Stupendemys men for partners or territory.
According to the paleontologist Edwin Cadena of the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota, who led the research results published in the journal Science Advances, there are fights between certain turtles, especially between male turtles.
Stupendemys is the second largest known turtle after Archelon, which lived about 70 million years ago at the end of the dinosaur age and reached a length of about 4.6 meters.
The first Stupendemys fossils were found in the 1970s, but many secrets remained about the animal. The new fossils included the largest known turtle shell – 2.86 meters long, even larger than Archelon's shell – and the first lower jaw to provide information on its diet.
"Stupendemys geographicus was huge and heavy. The largest individuals of this type were roughly the size and length of a limousine car when we consider the head, neck, shell and limbs," said Cadena.
"His diet was varied, including small animals – fish, caimans, snakes – as well as mollusks and vegetation, especially fruit and seeds. The compilation of all anatomical features of this type shows that his lifestyle lay mainly on the bottom of large freshwater bodies, including lakes and large ones Rivers, "added Cadena.
Stupendemys – which means "amazing turtle" – populated a colossal wetland system that spanned Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Peru before the Amazon and Orinoco rivers formed.
Its size may have been critical to defending itself against huge predators. It shared the environment with giant crocodiles, including the 11-meter long caiman Purussaurus and the 10-meter long Gavial relative Gryposuchus. One of the Stupendemys fossils was found with a 5 cm long crocodile tooth.
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