Fossil turtle from Colombia round like car tire

Jul 11, 2012
The round shape of a new species of fossil turtle found in Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia may have warmed readily in the sun. Credit: Liz Bradford

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 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.

Paleontologists unearth the carapace of the giant turtle, Puentemys, which lived 60 million years ago in a hot tropical forest environment. Credit: Edwin Cadena

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.

Explore further: Remains of French ship being reassembled in Texas

More information: Cadena, E.A., Bloch, J.I., and Jaramillo, C.A. 2012. New Bothremydid turtle (Testudines, Pleurodira) from the Paleocene of Northeastern Colombia. Journal of Paleontology, 86(4):689-699.

Related Stories

Researchers reveal ancient giant turtle fossil

May 17, 2012

Picture a turtle the size of a Smart car, with a shell large enough to double as a kiddie pool. Paleontologists from North Carolina State University have found just such a specimen – the fossilized remains ...

Oldest sea turtle fossil unveiled in Mexico

Mar 06, 2009

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.

Tough turtles survive cretaceous meteorite impact

Jul 12, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- New fossil localities from North Dakota and Montana have produced the remains of a turtle that survived the 65 million-year-old meteorite impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. The resulting ...

Recommended for you

Remains of French ship being reassembled in Texas

Oct 24, 2014

A frigate carrying French colonists to the New World that sank in a storm off the Texas coast more than 300 years ago is being reassembled into a display that archeologists hope will let people walk over ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (8) Jul 11, 2012
Perhaps they escaped predators by rolling off?

...naw
nuge
5 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2012
The most peculiar feature of this new turtle is its extremely circular shell, about the size and shape of a big car tire


The width of the turtle's shell probably exceeded the maximum expansion of the Titanoboa's mouth


Jesus Christ, I would hope so. Anyone know how big the snake was, if it *just maybe* couldn't get it's mouth around a car tire??

Edit: Holy shit: http://freethough...boa.jpeg
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Jul 12, 2012
Perhaps they escaped predators by rolling off?

...naw
Well snakes can do it... supposedly.
http://en.wikiped...uroboros

No really other animals also do it
http://www.abc.ne...2505.htm
PhotonX
1 / 5 (2) Jul 12, 2012
Damn, I was hoping to tune in to find kevintard going off on how the scientists are portraying guesses as *facts*, and who was there to see this happen anyhow?
.
I guess Noah just couldn't fit these guys on the Ark, eh?