Recently, archaeologists have found specimens of Archelon – an ancient tortoise that became extinct around the end of the Late Cretaceous period, about 66 million years ago.
This is recorded as one of the largest known turtles on Earth, scientifically known as Leviathanochelys aenigmatica. In particular, “leviathan” is the name of the biblical sea beast Leviathan, used to name sea turtles thanks to its enormous size.
Giant ancient turtles as big as rhinos went extinct 66 million years ago. (Photo: Iflscience).
According to the study’s notes, the Archelon tortoise’s specimen revealed that it could grow to be nearly 4 meters long, equivalent to the size of a rhinoceros. The specimen was recovered from the Cal Torrades area, located in northeastern Spain. It is believed to have been hiding under the water for about 80 million years.
Besides the amazing size, the researchers also discovered many anatomical features located on the pelvis and carapace of the specimen, and this surprised them. Some have even suggested that they are looking at a new species, and possibly even a new group of turtles.
The size of the ancient tortoise Charchelon compared to humans. (Photo: Iflscience).
The enormous size of this turtle is an example of convergent evolution. In fact, to this day, the same trait is still found in the giant tortoises of the world that exist in North and South America.
Specimens of one of the largest known turtles
According to the study’s authors, the discovery of the world’s largest sea turtle specimen sheds light on the diversity of sea turtles and the evolutionary trend towards “giantization” occurring in sea turtle groups in the region. Europe in particular, and the Cretaceous in general.