Published: Sat, February 15, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Shell shocker: Prehsitoric armoured turtle shell found weighing more than a tonne

Shell shocker: Prehsitoric armoured turtle shell found weighing more than a tonne

The turtle - Stupendemys geographicus - is thought to have actually strolled the area in between 13 as well as 7 million years back. The animal would have resembled, in length and weight, a midsized vehicle.

Understanding more about the giant turtle has also helped the researchers clarify turtle evolution and determine that the closest living relative of Stupendemys is the big-headed Amazon river turtle, even though it's a hundred times smaller. With this being the largest turtle shell ever discovered in the total phylogeny, scientists will hunt for more fossils in and around the American continent for similar fossils.

Venezuelan Palaeontologist Rodolfo Sánchez and a male carapace of Stupendemys geographicus, from Venezuela, found in 8 million years old deposits.

In the past few years, Cadena's team has been located near Urumaco in the northwest of Venezuela and in the Tatacoa- Desert in the south of Colombia a few more, partly complete tanks and a lower jaw of this type and analyzed them "very carefully", says Uwe Fritz, who was not involved in the investigations.

"Its diet was diverse including small animals - fishes, caimans, snakes - as well as mollusks and vegetation, particularly fruits and seeds", he told Reuters.

The male had forward pointing horns either side of its shell.

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The researchers hypothesise that the horns were used as "weapons in male-male combat behaviours". Deep scars detected in the fossils indicated that these horns might have been used like a lance for fighting with other S. geographicus males over mates or territory. One of the Stupendemys fossils was found with a two-inch-long (5cm) crocodile tooth embedded in it. Despite their size, giant bite marks in the shells show that predators, including massive alligator-like caimans, weren't deterred by the animal's huge shield.

Earth's landscape at the time of the Stupendemys bore little resemblance to today's topography. "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", he said.

It had to do with the dimension as well as weight of a cocktail lounge auto as well as populated a substantial marsh throughout north South America prior to the Amazon as well as Orinoco rivers were developed.

But those ideal conditions were not to last. Habitat disruption and geographical changes by the Andes may be probable reasons for the cause of extinction.

The scientists also discovered jaws and other skeleton parts of Stupendemys, enabling them to revise the evolutionary relationships of this species within the turtle tree of life.

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