Oldest sea turtle fossil unveiled in Mexico

March 6, 2009
Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) head to the sea just after hatching. Paleontologists unveiled the oldest fossil remains of a sea turtle, the ancestor of the present day green turtle, that lived 72 million years ago in northern Mexico, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said.

Paleontologists on Thursday unveiled the oldest fossil remains of a sea turtle that lived 72 million years ago in northern Mexico, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said.

"It is the oldest sea turtle of its kind and it belongs to the chelonia family. The oldest specimen of this species up to now was 65 million years old and was found in New Jersey, United States," the INAH said in a statement.

The fossils of seven sea turtles were found at different sites in Coahuila, the state that Mexican scientists call "the paradise of paleontology."

The sea turtle inhabited the northern region in the late Cretaceous period, 72 million years ago, and is the ancestor of the present day green turtle, the institute said.

It was one meter (yard) long, 70 centimeters (28 inches) wide and distinguished from other turtles by its rounded head.

(c) 2009 AFP

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