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Researchers Find 13-Million-Year-Old Turtle Fossil The Size Of A Car

Researchers Find 13-Million-Year-Old Turtle Fossil The Size Of A Car

If Finding Nemo is anything to go by, turtles are damn cute - however, cut back a few million years and we probably wouldn't be saying the same thing.

Case in point: researchers over in Colombia's Tatacoa Desert and Venezuela's Urumaco region have unearthed a turtle fossil the size of a car.

Credit: University of Zurich/Edwin Cadena/PA
Credit: University of Zurich/Edwin Cadena/PA

Named Stupendemys geographicus, experts predict the remains are of a turtle that roamed the region between 13 and 7 million years ago.

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And if that doesn't blow your mind, get a load of the size of this thing - the shell alone spans three-metres, meaning the turtle weighed the equivalent of a saloon car.

The BBC reports the male turtle's lower jaw bone, which was found alongside the shell, has led researchers to predict it lived at the bottom of lakes and rivers while eating a diet of small animals, vegetation, fruit and seeds.

Not only did its sheer size likely scare away any predators, but the male turtle had sturdy forward pointing horns near its neck to protect itself.

In fact, one of the fossils was found with a giant crocodile tooth embedded in it, while deep scars suggest the horns were used for fighting off rivals.

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As said, it's a far cry from the surfer dude Crush in Finding Nemo.

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Turtles weren't always so friendly. Credit: Disney/Pixar
Turtles weren't always so friendly. Credit: Disney/Pixar

According to palaeontologist Edwin Cadena of the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, who led the research published in the journal Science Advances, fighting between certain turtle species still occurs today, particularly between males.

Speaking about the prehistoric genus of freshwater turtles, Cadena explained: "Stupendemys geographicus was huge and heavy.

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"The largest individuals of this species were about the size and length of a sedan automobile if we take into account the head, neck, shell and limbs."

Although Stupendemys fossils were first unearthed in the 1970s, this is the first time experts have discovered a comprehensive understanding of the species, which grew up to four metres in length and weighed up to 1.25 tonnes.

It inhabited a huge area of wetlands across what is now Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Peru before the Amazon and Orinoco rivers were established.

Cadena added: "Its diet was diverse, including small animals - fishes, caimans, snakes - as well as molluscs and vegetation, particularly fruits and seeds.

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"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."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Colombia, Sea, Animal, Discovery, scientists, Turtle

Daisy Phillipson

Daisy is a UK-based freelance journalist with too many opinions. She loves everything film and music-related and has a track record writing for Little White Lies, BWRC, and Film Daily. Contact her at [email protected]