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They found a prehistoric sea turtle the size of a car in Spain

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Illustrated reconstruction of the large Cretaceous sea turtle “Leviathanochelys aenigmatica”. Photo: D.W.

Researchers have discovered the remains of a new species of giant sea turtle in northern Spain. Weighing two tons and measuring 3 meters in length, this prehistoric creature is the largest ever found in Europe.

Scientists described the turtle and named it The mysterious LeviathanochelesA person who lived during the Cretaceous period, the last chapter of the age of dinosaurs, in an article published in Scientific Reports.

The prehistoric turtle dwarfs today’s largest turtle, the leatherback, which can reach two meters in length and is known for its marathon sea migrations. Leviathanocheles is almost the same size as the largest known turtle, Archaelon, which lived about 70 million years ago and reached a length of 4.6 meters.

The mysterious Leviathanocheles The term “mysterious leviathan sea turtle” is due to its large size and curious shape of the pelvis, which researchers suspect is related to its respiratory system.

“As long as there’s a Mini Cooper”

“Leviathanochelys was about as long as a Mini Cooper, while Archelon was about the size of a Toyota Corolla,” said study co-author Albert Celles, a paleontologist at the Institut Català de Paleontologia (ICP), a research center affiliated with the university. The autonomy of Barcelona.

Considering the dangerous traffic in the ancient Tethys Sea that Leviathanocheles swam across, the size of a car was good. The top predators were huge marine reptiles with powerful jaws called mosasaurs, some of which were over 15 meters long. They hunted various sharks and rays as well as long-necked marine reptiles called plesiosaurs.

“Attacking an animal the size of Leviathanocheles could only be done by large predators in a marine setting. At the time, large marine predators in the European region were mainly sharks and mosasaurs,” explains master’s student Oscar Castillo. degree in paleontology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and lead author of the study.

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The tip of the body increases

“During the Cretaceous period, sea turtles tended to increase in body size. Leviathanocheles and Archelaon could represent the apex of this process. Predation pressures are thought to be the cause of this increase in body size, but there may be other factors.” Castillo added.

Other large turtles from Earth’s past are Protostega and Stupendemys, both of which were about 4 meters long.

Protostega was a Cretaceous sea turtle that lived about 85 million years ago and, like its later relative Archelaon, lived in a large inland sea that bisected North America at the time. About 7-13 million years ago, during the Miocene, stupendemics roamed the lakes and rivers of northern South America.

Fossils of Leviathanocheles enigmatica, a large Cretaceous sea turtle that lived approximately 83 million years ago, were found at a quarry in the Catalan region of Alt Urgal in northeastern Spain. Photo: D.W.

Scientists discovered the remains of Leviathanocheles near the town of Col de Nargo in Catalonia’s Alt Urgal region after a hiker spotted the fossils sticking out of the ground in the southern Pyrenees.. To date, parts of the back of its shell and most of the pelvic girdle have been found, but not the skull, tail or limbs.

The presence of a pair of bony protrusions at the front of the pelvis is unlike any other known sea turtle, suggesting that it represents a newly discovered genus. This demonstrates that giantism in sea turtles evolved independently in separate lineages from the Cretaceous of North America and Europe.

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(Taken from DW)

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