Turtles with size on par with that of a car used to roam the coasts of South America more than 13 million years ago. A series of fascinating fossils have been recovered from two regions, offering valuable data about the imposing creatures.
The first fossils of a giant turtle were found in the 19070, but many questions remained without an answer. Current data suggests that they preferred the large wetland which could be found across South America before massive rivers like Amazon and Orinoco surfaced.
Males featured an unusual trait in the form of sharp horns that could be found on the sides of the shell. These horns were used for combat as scars have been found on the shells of other turtles, which infers that they may have dueled for the right to mate.
Giant turtles could be encountered on the bottom of large lakes and rivers. A rich diet included small animals, fruits, vegetation, and seeds that could be found on the surface.
Scientists learned more about the car-sized ancient turtle from South America
Since the size of the creatures was quite large, only a few predators tried to attack them, with one being the giant crocodile.
The specifies known as Stupendemys, and it is the second-largest species of turtles that have been uncovered by researchers. At 4.6 meters in length, Archelon is the largest one, and the massive being lived more than 70 million years ago near the sunset of the age of the dinosaurs.
According to one of the researchers who contributed to the study, Stupendemys geographicus moved quite slowly do their size. While they came to the surface to find food, most of their time was spent in the water, where it was considerably more comfortable to move from one place to another.
It is not clear what led to the demise of the giant turtles, but further research will take place in the future.