Fossil turtle from Colombia round like car tire
Paleontologist Carlos Jaramillo's group at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and colleagues at North Carolina State University and the Florida Museum of Natural History discovered a new species of fossil turtle that lived 60 million years ago in what is now northwestern South America. The team's findings were published in the Journal of Paleontology.
The new turtle species is named Puentemys mushaisaensis because it was found in La Puente pit in Cerrejón Coal Mine, a place made famous for the discoveries, not only of the extinct Titanoboa, the world's biggest snake, but also of Carbonemys, a freshwater turtle as big as a smart car.
Cerrejon's fossil reptiles all seem to be extremely large. With its total length of 5 feet, Puentemys adds to growing evidence that following the extinction of the dinosaurs, tropical reptiles were much bigger than they are now. Fossils from Cerrejon offer an excellent opportunity to understand the origins of tropical biodiversity in the last 60 million years of Earth's history.
The most peculiar feature of this new turtle is its extremely circular shell, about the size and shape of a big car tire. Edwin Cadena, post-doctoral fellow at North Carolina State University and lead author of the paper, said that the turtle's round shape could have discouraged predators, including Titanoboa, and aided in regulating its body temperature.
The width of the turtle's shell probably exceeded the maximum expansion of the Titanoboa's mouth. Its circular, low-domed shape would have increased the area of the body exposed to the sun, helping the cold-blooded turtle warm to a temperature at which it was more active.
- Giant, Round Turtle Fossil Discovered in Hideout of World's Largest Snakefrom Live ScienceThu, 12 Jul 2012, 9:01:13 EDT
- Fossil turtle from Colombia round like a car tirefrom Science BlogThu, 12 Jul 2012, 9:00:33 EDT
- Giant fossil turtle from Colombia round like car tirefrom Science DailyWed, 11 Jul 2012, 22:00:34 EDT
- Ancient turtle was round like a truck tirefrom UPIWed, 11 Jul 2012, 22:00:20 EDT
- Ancient turtle was round like a truck tirefrom UPIWed, 11 Jul 2012, 20:00:17 EDT
- Fossil turtle from Colombia round like car tirefrom PhysorgWed, 11 Jul 2012, 17:00:44 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Rosetta spacecraft sees sinkholes on comet
- Seahorse tails could inspire new generation of robots
- Newly discovered 48-million-year-old lizard walked on water in Wyoming
- First comprehensive analysis of the woolly mammoth genome completed
- Study finds males may contribute to offspring's mental development before pregnancy
- Quenched glasses, asteroid impacts, and ancient life on Mars
- Tiny but precise: The most accurate quantum thermometers
- Titan's atmosphere even more Earth-like than previously thought
- Stanford engineers develop state-by-state plan to convert US to 100 percent renewable energy
- Heart attack risk increases 16-21 percent with use of common antacid