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World 'Largest turtle that ever lived' had 10ft shell with horns to fight

05:25  13 february  2020
05:25  13 february  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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It would have weighed more than a tonne and had horns across its giant shell . A giant sea turtle with a horned 8ft long shell may have used it for combat. This is a graphic reconstruction of It had an armoured carapace that could have been used in fights to the death with male rivals over mates

Scientists have unearthed new fossils of one of the largest turtles that ever lived : a car-sized reptile which prowled the lakes and rivers of what is now Stupendemys is the second- largest known turtle , behind seagoing Archelon, which lived roughly 70m years ago at the end of the age of dinosaurs and

a turtle swimming under water: An artist's impression of the huge extinct Stupendemys geographicus© Reuters An artist's impression of the huge extinct Stupendemys geographicus An extinct giant turtle had a horned shell up to three metres (10ft) big that it may have used for combat, scientists say.

The Stupendemys geographicus used to live in a humid swamp teeming with life five to 10 million years ago, in what is today a desert area in Venezuela.

The species, which was the largest land turtle of all time, was first described in the mid-1970s.

Analysis of several new shell specimens has led scientists to estimate the animal was twice as large as the largest modern variety, researchers say.

Marcelo Sanchez, who led the study, said: "The carapace of some Stupendemys individuals reached almost three metres, making it one of the largest, if not the largest turtle that ever existed.

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The researchers conclude that the horns belonged to S . geographicus males, which may have used them to fight each other. That size was probably a useful defense against the 10-meter crocodilelike creatures also living in the Pebas system, he adds. Several of the fossil turtle shells have bite marks

The vertebrae have an S -shaped curve to allow for neck retraction into the shell . The largest living chelonian is the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), which The largest ever chelonian was Archelon ischyros, a Late Cretaceous sea turtle known to have been up to 4.6 m (15 ft) long.[20].

a man sitting on a rock: The species was the largest land turtle of all time© Reuters The species was the largest land turtle of all time "The two shell types indicate that two sexes of Stupendemys existed - males with horned shells, and females with hornless shells."

Researchers suggest the unique horn-like shells at the front of the hard upper shells, may have served to protect their massive skulls when engaged in combat with other males.

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.

Prof Sanchez explained: "Based on studies of the turtle anatomy, we now know that some living turtles from the Amazon region are the closest living relatives."

The new discoveries and the investigation of existing fossils from Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela suggest a much wider geographic distribution of Stupendemys than previously assumed.

The animal lived across the whole of the northern part of South America, according to the study published in Science Advances.

Biggest Turtle to Ever Walk the Earth Was Hunted by 40 Foot Crocodiles .
The turtle shell found in Colombia's Tatacoa Desert was found to be eight feet long.The turtle, Stupendemys geographicus, lived during the mid to late Miocene, 13 to 7 million years ago. It represents the biggest complete turtle shell ever discovered.

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