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Automotive-sized dinosaur-era sea turtle fossils present in Spain

Automotive-sized dinosaur-era sea turtle fossils present in Spain

Nov 17 (Reuters) – Within the subtropical seas that washed the coast of the archipelago that shaped Europe 83 million years in the past, one of many largest turtles on document swam, a reptile the dimensions of a small automotive – a Mini Cooper, to be precise – that braved the damaging waters.

Researchers on Thursday described the stays of a turtle named Leviathanochelys aenigmatica present in northeastern Spain, which was about 12 toes (3.7 meters) lengthy, weighed slightly below two tons and lived within the Cretaceous interval, the ultimate chapter of the age of dinosaurs. It’s the largest identified turtle in Europe.

It dwarfs the biggest turtle up to now, the leatherback, which might attain 7 toes (2 meters) in size and is understood for its marathon sea migrations. Leviathanochelys virtually matched the biggest turtle ever recorded, Archelon, which lived about 70 million years in the past and was about 15 toes (4.6 meters) lengthy.

“Leviathanochelys was so long as a Mini Cooper, whereas Archelon was the dimensions of a Toyota Corolla,” mentioned paleontologist and research co-author Albert Celes of the Instituto de Palaeontologia Catalunya (ICP), a analysis middle affiliated with the Autonomous College of Barcelona. .

It was a superb factor to be the dimensions of a automotive, given the damaging visitors within the historic Tethys sea through which the Leviathanachelis sailed. Large marine reptiles with highly effective jaws known as mosasaurs have been the biggest predators – some exceeding 50 toes (15 meters) in size. Additionally lurking have been numerous sharks and sharks, in addition to long-necked fish-eating marine reptiles known as plesiosaurs.

“An animal the dimensions of Leviathanochelys might presumably solely have been attacked by massive predators in a marine context. At the moment, massive marine predators within the European zone have been primarily sharks and mosasaurs,” mentioned Oscar Castillo, a pupil on the faculty. grasp’s program in paleontology on the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona and lead creator of a research printed within the journal Scientific stories.

“Through the Cretaceous interval, there was a bent for sea turtles to extend in physique dimension. Leviathanochelys and Archelon might have been the top of this course of. The reason for this enhance in physique dimension is considered predation stress, however there could also be different components as effectively,” Castillo added.

Different massive turtles from Earth’s previous embody Protostega and Stupendemys, each reaching about 13 toes (4 meters) in size. Protostega was a Cretaceous sea turtle that lived about 85 million years in the past and, like its later cousin Archelon, inhabited the good inland sea that on the time divided North America in two. Stupendemis roamed the lakes and rivers of northern South America about 7-13 million years in the past through the Miocene epoch.

Scientists found the stays of Leviathanochelys close to the village of Coll de Nargó in Alt-Urgel in Catalonia after a hiker within the southern Pyrenees observed the fossil protruding of the bottom. So far, they’ve discovered elements of the again of its carapace, or shell, and most of its pelvic girdle, however no cranium, tail or limbs.

Fossils have proven that it had a clean shell much like leatherback turtles, with the shell itself about 7.7 toes (2.35 meters) lengthy and seven.2 toes (2.2 meters) vast. Leviathanochelys appears to be made for the open ocean, returning to land very hardly ever – for instance to put eggs.

The presence of a number of bony prominences on the entrance of the pelvis is in contrast to every other identified sea turtle, indicating that Leviathanochelys represents a just lately found lineage. This exhibits that gigantism in sea turtles developed independently in separate Cretaceous lineages in North America and Europe.

Leviathanochelys aenigmatica means “enigmatic leviathan turtle” due to its massive dimension and oddly formed pelvis, which researchers suspect was associated to its respiratory system.

“Some pelagic (open ocean) animals present a modification of the respiratory system to maximise respiration capability at nice depths,” Seles mentioned.

Reporting by Will Dunham in Washington Modifying by Rosalba O’Brien

Our requirements: Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.


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