Scientists discover a turtle the size of a auto!

  • Scientists discover a turtle the size of a auto!

Scientists discover a turtle the size of a auto!

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Some of these beasts may have been the size of a auto and males also had unique horned shells which they think were used to take on other turtles. Today, the northern tip of South America is quite arid and covered in desert sands, but some 5 to 10 million years ago, during the Miocene epoch, the region was humid and swampy.

One of the specimens described in the latest study - published this week in the journal Science Advances - boasted a shell almost 10 feet across.

Stupendemys was first discovered in the mid-1970s, but an worldwide team of researchers from Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Switzerland, has now reported exceptionally well-preserved specimens of the extinct turtle - in the process - and we now know that this turtle was much more interesting than initially thought.

The beast, whose name means "stupendous turtle" in Latin, lived between seven million and 13 million years ago in the ancient wetlands that eventually turned into the Amazon rainforest in Peru, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia.

Palaeontologist Rodolfo Sanchez lies alongside a carapace of the giant turtle Stupendemys geographicus, from Urumaco, Venezuela.

Colombian and Venezuelan paleontologists work together during the excavation of the giant turtle Stupendemys geographicus in northern Venezuela, in an undated picture released February 12, 2020.

One of the largest turtles ever to roam the Earth was as big as a sedan, built like a tank and equipped with two lance-like horns on its shell, new fossils recovered from South America show. The turtle had an estimated body mass of 1,145 kg - nearly one hundred times that of its closest living relative, the big-headed Amazon river turtle.

Interestingly, some individuals exhibited an unexpected feature: horns on the carapace.

Despite their hulking size and massive shells, the giant turtles weren't without natural predators.

For the first time, scientists identified horns on the shells of male Stupendemys geographicus specimens. In many areas, the occurrence of Stupendemys coincides with Purussaurus, the largest caimans.

The discovery of the jaws and other skeleton parts of Stupendemys allowed the researchers to thoroughly revise the evolutionary relationships of this species within the turtle tree of life.

"Based on studies of the turtle anatomy, we now know that some living turtles from the Amazon region are the closest living relatives", says Sánchez. For millions of years, the South American rainforest has fostered unique fauna, including some of the most incredible extinct giant rodents and crocodilians, including crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gavials.

Coauthors of the study in Science Advances are from institutions in Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela.