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Strange discovery: Spanish researchers discovered the remains of a tortoise the size of a car

Strange discovery: Spanish researchers discovered the remains of a tortoise the size of a car

Site where fossils of the large Cretaceous sea turtle, Leviathanochelys aenigmatica, were found (Reuters)

North West Spain It was the scene of a strange, bizarre discovery way back in time 83 million years. A group of researchers found the remains of A Turtle Leviathanochelys aenigmaticaone of the largest islands on record, which inhabited the subtropical seas that doused the coasts of the European archipelago at the time and that braved the perilous waters.

This creeper is unusual (specialized journal nature He described the discovery as “strange”) at length 3.7 metres and weighs less than buzz; Its size was similar to that of a car Mini Cooper. It is, then, about The largest known tortoise in Europewho lived during that period chalky The end of the dinosaur era.

Scientists discovered the fossil remains near the town of Col Nargo, in the Alt Urgell region of Catalonia, after a hiker noticed these skeletons sticking out of the ground in the southern Pyrenees.

So far, no evidence has been found on his back coincidences And most of him pelvic girdlealthough no remains of the skull, tail or limbs were found.

Skeletal remains of the turtle Leviathanochelys aenigmatica Nature via Scientific Reports
Skeletal remains of the turtle Leviathanochelys aenigmatica Nature via Scientific Reports

According to the cut, the animal also had a soft shell similar to that of a leatherback turtle – 2.35 meters long and 2.2 meters wide. All of these conditions would have made Leviathanochelys ideal for life in the open ocean, with the need to return to the mainland on rare occasions, such as to lay eggs.

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Scientists also noticed bony protrusions in the front of the pelvis, which are different from any other type of sea turtle known to date, which makes them Newly discovered proportions.

Additionally, it represents gigantism in sea turtles that evolved independently in separate lineages of Cretaceous North America and Europe.

Leviathanochelys aenigmatica is Smaller than the largest turtle today Leatherback turtle – which can grow up to two meters in length and is famous for its marathon sea migrations. In turn, Leviathanochelys It is almost equal to the largest turtle on record – Archelon – who lived about 70 million years ago and reached 4.6 meters in length.

Illustrated reconstruction of the large Cretaceous sea turtle Leviathanochelys aenigmatica, which lived about 83 million years ago and whose fossils were found in the Catalan region of Alt Urgell in northeastern Spain (REUTERS)
An illustrated reconstruction of the large Cretaceous sea turtle Leviathanochelys aenigmatica, which lived about 83 million years ago and whose fossils were found in the Catalan region of Alt Urgell in northeastern Spain (REUTERS)

“Leviathanochelys was as tall as a Mini Cooper, while Archelon was about the same size as a Toyota Corolla,” said the study’s paleontologist and co-author. Albert Salesfrom the Catalan Institute of Paleontology (ICP), a research center of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Comparing these animals to cars is useful for understanding the environment in which they lived, with the dangerous traffic of the ancient Tethys Sea. There lived huge marine reptiles with powerful jaws, called mosasaurs, which were the largest predators and, in some cases, exceeded 15 meters in length. The records also account for sharks, rays, and long-necked marine reptiles called plesiosaurs.

“An animal the size of Leviathanocheles could only be attacked by large predators in a marine context. At that time, the large marine predators in the European region were mainly sharks and mosasaurs.” Oscar Castilloa master’s student in paleontology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and lead author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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During the Cretaceous period, sea turtles tended to increase their body size, so Leviathanochelys and Archelon could represent “the apex of this process,” Castillo continued. The reason for this is predatory pressures.

Other species of large turtle that have been recorded are protostega s just awesomeBoth are about 4 meters long. The first lived in the Cretaceous period – about 85 million years ago – and is a cousin of the later Archelon, with whom she shared the great inland sea that divided North America at that time into two parts. Meanwhile, the second roamed the lakes and rivers of northern South America some seven to thirteen million years ago, during the Miocene epoch.

(With information from Reuters)

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