Health Editor’s Note: I have to say these turtles would have made a big impression on anyone/anything who chose to challenge them. They weighed as much as hippos. Wow!…..Carol
Gigantic Turtles Fought Epic Battles 10 Million Years Ago—and Have the Scars to Prove It
by Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
Researchers have uncovered complete fossils of the giant turtle Stupendemys geographicus in Venezuela and Colombia. The fossils, including a gigantic top shell and the first examples of S. geographicus jaw bones, give new insight into the lives of ancient South American giant turtles.
Although the fossils were dug up in deserts, five to ten million years ago the land that’s now northeast Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela was covered in deep swamps and rivers that supported giant reptiles. The paper, published in Science Advances on February 12, shows that S. geographicus turtles had shells up to ten feet across. For comparison, a standard United States freeway lane is 12 feet wide.
It was “one of the largest, if not the largest turtle that ever existed,” says University of Zurich paleobiologist Marcelo Sánchez in a statement.
The creatures, which at 2,500 pounds weighed nearly as much as a hippopotamus, were not just massive but also well-armed. New specimens found by the research team have a foot-long horn on each shoulder, and one horn had a long scar down its side. Sánchez says that the horns were likely used by males to battle for mates.