STL Science Center

STL Science Center

21 February 2018

Turtle Bits Everywhere

The 2007 Colombian skeletons that were described by Cadena and Parham 2015 consisted of at least four individuals; four skulls that are either entirely or nearly entirely complete were among these remains. The holotype from this set of remains of Desmatochelys padillai consists of one of the incomplete skulls as well as portions of the neck (hyoid and vertebrae 3-8), both forelimbs with incomplete digits, the left shoulder girdle, and most of the upper (carapace) and lower (a partial hyoplastron and hypoplastron) shell. Two additional partial shells were also recovered in 2007. The remains constitute the oldest known marine turtle at approximately 120 million years old; the next oldest fossil marine turtle is an animal known as Santanachelys gaffneyi at 95 million years old.

These turtles were not tiny marine animals either. The Colombian fossils had heads that, at their largest, measured 320 mm (12 in) long and 216 mm (8.5 in ) wide (specimen FCG–CBP 01). The known material of the carapace of this specimen measured approximately 1660 mm (2.17 ft) long and 1353 mm (4.44 ft) wide. As we can see below, this was a rather large and impressive turtle.
©Edwin Cadena

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