Giant Prehistoric Turtle Fossil Was Round Like a Car Tire

By Chelsea Whyte on July 12, 2012 9:15 PM EDT

round turtle
The round shape of a new species of fossil turtle found in Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia may have warmed readily in the sun. (Photo: Liz Bradford)

Paleontologists have uncovered a fossilized turtle shell of a newly discovered species that lived 60 million years ago.

Researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and colleagues at North Carolina State University and the Florida Museum of Natural History found the fossil in what is now northwestern South America and they report their findings the Journal of Paleontology.

The turtle is called Puentemys mushaisaensis because it was found in La Puente pit in Cerrejón Coal Mine, a place famous for other major discoveries, like that of the Carbonemys freshwater turtle that was as big as a smart car. The new turtle species is five feet long.

Like Us on Facebook

All Cerrejon's fossil reptiles seem to be extremely large, reports TG Daily, and this latest discovery adds to the evidence that following the extinction of the dinosaurs, tropical reptiles were generally much bigger than they are now.

It wasn't just the size of Puentemys that stood out to researchers; one of its features set it apart from other turtle species.  

"The shell was far more rounded than a typical turtle," lead researcher Carlos Jaramillo told LiveScience. It is about the size and shape of a large car tire said Edwin Cadena, a post-doctoral fellow at North Carolina State University.

The peculiar shape of the shell may have discouraged predators like the Titanoboa - the world's biggest snake - who would not have been able to open their jaws wide enough to engulf the turtle. The low-domed shape would also have helped regulate the cold-blooded turtle's temperature by increasing the area of the body exposed to the sun.

According to MSNBC, various factors, including plentiful food, fewer predators, large habitat and climate change, would have worked together to allow turtles and other animals to reach such relatively gargantuan sizes, scientists have suggested.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Sponsored From Around the Web

    ZergNet
Follow iScience Times
us on facebook RSS
 
us on google
 
Most Popular
Personal Screens Made From Mist: Innovative Technology Made Out Of Thin Air [VIDEO]
Chimps Escape From Kansas City Zoo: Ringleader Uses Branch To Escape Enclosure, Beckons 6 Others To Follow
‘Blood Moon’: Lunar Eclipse Wows Viewers In US, South America, And Parts Of Pacific
Zumwalt Destroyer, Most Futuristic Of Navy Ships, Now Ready For Battle [PHOTOS]
Global Warming Isn't Natural: To Remaining Climate Change Skeptics, This Study 'Will Be A Blow'
INSIDE iScience Times
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet  Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Research Shows Cats Are Rude; Can Recognize Their Owners Voice But Choose Not To Respond
Research Shows Cats Are Rude; Can Recognize Their Owners Voice But Choose Not To Respond