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Scientists Discover Ancient Turtle as Big as a Car

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Scientists have discovered one of the largest turtle on record. Turtles the size of small cars lived in Europe 83 million years ago.

Researchers recently described an artifact found in northeastern Spain. The remains belonged to a turtle named Leviathanochelys aenigmatica. It was about 3.7 meters long. It lived during the last Cretaceous period of the dinosaur era. The most famous turtle in Europe.

Ancient turtles were much larger than today’s largest turtles, leatherback turtles, reaching up to 2 meters in length. Leviathanocherys is a close match for the largest turtle on record, Archelon, which lived about 70 million years ago and reached a length of about 4.6 meters.

“The Leviathanochellis was as long as a Mini Cooper, but the Archelon was the same size as a Toyota Corolla,” said study co-author Albert Serres of the Institute of Paleontology (ICP). .

Leviathanokeris was swimming in dangerous waters. Its predators include mosasaurs and plesiosaurs, large aquatic creatures up to 15 meters in length. Other nearby predators were sharks and rays.

“Attacking animals as large as Leviathanocherys could possibly have been done only by large predators in a marine context. At the time, large marine predators in the European Zone were mainly sharks. and Mosasaurus.” Autònoma de Barcelona and lead author of the study published in Scientific Reports.

The fossil site of the giant Cretaceous sea turtle Leviathanochelys aenigmatica, which lived about 83 million years ago, was discovered at an excavation site in Alto Urgell County, Catalonia, northeastern Spain. (Handout by Angel Galobart/Museu de la Conca Della – Institut Catala de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont/REUTERS)

According to Castillo, during the Cretaceous period, sea turtles were getting bigger. Leviathanochelys and Archelon were the greatest examples of this process. “The reason for this increase in body size” may have been “predatory pressure,” Castillo said.

Other large turtles in Earth’s past include Protostega and Stupendemis, both reaching about 4 meters in length. Protostega is a Cretaceous sea turtle that lived near what is now North America about 85 million years ago. Stupendemys lived in what is now South America during the Miocene period, about 7-13 million years ago.

Scientists have discovered the remains of Leviathanochellis near the village of Col de Nargo in the Alto Urgell district of Catalonia. Hikers in the Southern Pyrenees saw bones partially covered by the ground.To date, researchers have found parts of the underside of the shell, and most pelvis It has a region but no skull, tail or limbs.

Bones suggest that the creature had a smooth carapace similar to that of a leatherback turtle, which itself was about 2.35 meters long and 2.2 meters wide. Leviathanochelys appears to be built for the open ocean and rarely returns to land for purposes such as spawning.

The presence of several bony regions on the anterior side of the pelvis suggests that, unlike other known sea turtles, Leviathanocheris represents a newly discovered lineage.

This finding suggests the large size of independently developed sea turtles in separate Cretaceous lineages in North America and Europe.

Leviathanochelys aenigmatica says “Mysterious Leviathan Researchers believe it has something to do with the respiratory system, due to its massive body and oddly shaped pelvis.

I’m John Russell.

Will Dunham reported on this article for Reuters. John Russell adopted it for VOA Learning English.

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the words of this story

turtle –n. A reptile that lives mainly in water and has a hard shell that covers the body

pelvis adjective relating to or located in or near the pelvis

enigmatic – adjective Full of mysteries and hard to understand

Leviathan –n. very big and powerful

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