Found: tur­tle the size of a car

The Citizen (KZN) - - World -

Washington – One of the largest tur­tles that ever lived prowled the lakes and rivers of north­ern South Amer­ica from about 13 mil­lion years ago to 7 mil­lion years ago – and this car-sized fresh­wa­ter beast was built for bat­tle.

Sci­en­tists have un­earthed new fos­sils of the tur­tle, called Stu­pen­de­mys ge­o­graph­i­cus, in Colom­bia’s Tat­a­coa Desert and Venezuela’s Uru­maco re­gion that for the first time pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of the big rep­tile, which got up to 4m long and 1.25 tons in weight.

Stu­pen­de­mys males, un­like the fe­males, boasted sturdy front-fac­ing horns on both sides of the cara­pace or shell, very close to the neck. Deep scars de­tected in the fos­sils in­di­cated that these horns may have been used like a lance for fight­ing with other males over mates or ter­ri­tory.

Fight­ing oc­curs among cer­tain tur­tles alive to­day, par­tic­u­larly be­tween male tor­toises, ac­cord­ing to pa­le­on­tol­o­gist Ed­win Cadena of the univer­sity in Bo­gota, who led the re­search. –

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