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60 Million year old giant turtle found in Colombia

The fossilized remains of a 60 million year old Carbonemys cofrinii, aka "coal turtle, were found in a coal mine in the northern Cerrejon formation of Colombia back in 2005. The discovery was recently reported in an edition of the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. IThe turtle is the biggest discovered from this era. Edwin Cadena, a North Carolina State doctoral student realised the magnitude of her find after working to uncover just the shell for four days. The shell alone is five feet long.

This gigantic specimen lived around 5 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs and is thought to have eaten more than just plants. Its massive jaws would even have been able to chew up a crocodile! The paleontologists, whose findings were published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, believe the turtle's giant size is down to "a combination of changes in the ecosystem, including fewer predators, a larger habitat area, plentiful food supply and climate changes, worked together to allow these giant species to survive."


Image: Reconstruction of Carbonemys preying upon a small crocodylomorph

Artwork by Liz Bradford / NCSU