Gigantic Turtle Species Lived in Europe 78 Million Many years Back

Aside from getting the largest marine turtle species ever uncovered in Europe, and one of the premier around the world, the discovery of Leviathanochelys aenigmatica implies that gigantism in marine turtles was obtained independently, by different lineages around time.

An artist’s impact of Archelon ischyros, Impression credits: Nobu Tamura,,

Leviathanochelys aenigmatica lived all through the Campanian age of the Late Cretaceous epoch, some 78 million years ago.

“Marine turtles have been widespread in the subtropical Higher Cretaceous epi-continental seas that the moment washed the coasts of the historic European archipelago,” reported Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona paleontologist Albert Selles and his colleagues.

“But compared with its contemporaneous faunas from North The united states, in Europe no species surpassed the 1.5 m shell-size.”

With an estimated physique duration of up to 3.7 m, Leviathanochelys aenigmatica represents the major marine turtle to have been observed in Europe to date.

The largest acknowledged maritime turtles these kinds of as the extinct genus Archelonwhich grew to sizes of 4.6 m very long and weighed up to 3.2 tons, lived in the seas encompassing the North American continent towards the conclusion of the Cretaceous period.

The fossilized stays of Leviathanochelys aenigmatica were found at the locality of Cal Torrades in Spain.

They consist of a fragmented but almost total pelvis and pieces of the higher shell (carapace).

“The specimen possesses a exclusive prominence of bone that protrudes forwards from the entrance of the pelvis,” the paleontologists reported.

“This options vary to other marine turtles, and implies that Leviathanochelys aenigmatica signifies a new taxon (group) of historical marine turtles.”

“This protrusion may possibly have linked to the respiratory procedure.”

Shell and pelvic girdle elements of Leviathanochelys aenigmatica: (a) dorsal view of the specimen with the elements disposed as they were discovered, remarking in white the preserved carapace portion;  (b) visceral view of the carapace with a superimposed interpretation of the shell elements;  (c) dorsal view of the preserved pelvic girdle without the carapace, and (d) ventral view of the same element with the carapace;  Asterisk marks indicate the location of the autapomorphic accessory pubic process;  details of the accessory pubic process in (e) dorsal and (f) ventral view;  (g) close up view of the posteromedial part of the pubes, in ventral (upper picture) and posterior view (lower picture), preserving part of the thyroid fossae separated by a thick bone structure (black arrow);  (h) Ventral view of the left acetabulum, illustrating the limits between the pelvic bones;  (i) detail of the outer ornamented surface of the ilium;  (j) Histological section of the costal 8, showing a cancellous bone zone between the highly vascularized internal and external cortices.  Image credit: Castillo-Visa et al., doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-22619-w.

Shell and pelvic girdle elements of Leviathanochelys aenigmatica: (a) dorsal check out of the specimen with the aspects disposed as they have been uncovered, remarking in white the preserved carapace portion (b) visceral look at of the carapace with a superimposed interpretation of the shell aspects (c) dorsal watch of the preserved pelvic girdle with out the carapace, and (d) ventral view of the identical component with the carapace Asterisk marks indicate the spot of the autapomorphic accent pubic course of action particulars of the accent pubic procedure in (e) dorsal and (f) ventral look at (g) near up check out of the posteromedial aspect of the pubes, in ventral (upper image) and posterior perspective (lower photo), preserving component of the thyroid fossae divided by a thick bone framework (black arrow) (h) Ventral see of the remaining acetabulum, illustrating the restrictions concerning the pelvic bones (i) depth of the outer ornamented floor of the ilium (j) Histological segment of the costal 8, displaying a cancellous bone zone involving the very vascularized inner and external cortices. Impression credit rating: Castillo-Visa et al., doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-22619-w.

The scientists estimate that the most width of Leviathanochelys aenigmatica‘s pelvis was 88.9 cm, which is somewhat larger sized than the major estimates for Archelon‘s ideal identified specimen (81 cm wide).

The length of the pelvis from entrance to again was estimated to be 39.5 cm, a little bit scaled-down than that of Archelon (46 cm tall).

“The discovery of the new gigantic and weird chelonioid Leviathanochelys aenigmatica from the Middle Campanian maritime deposits of the Southern Pyrenees, which rivals in size to Archelonsheds a light on the variety of maritime turtles and on how the phenomenon of gigantism in these teams was also taking place in Europe,” the authors reported.

“Despite the shortage and fragmentary mother nature of the person, the new proof not only raises the taxonomic variety of the Late Cretaceous maritime turtle biota in Europe, but also opens a new line of exploration and raises new questions, in order to solve the evolutionary mechanisms and ecological pressures that could have favored the unbiased evolution of colossal (above 2.5 m in shell duration) maritime turtles in multiple lineages, primarily in the course of the Late Cretaceous epoch.”

The findings are posted in the journal Scientific Reports,


O. Castillo-Visa et al, 2022. A gigantic bizarre maritime turtle (Testudines: Chelonioidea) from the Middle Campanian (Late Cretaceous) of South-western Europe. Sci Rep 12, 18322 doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-22619-w

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