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Giant turtle was as big as a car, reveal fossil findings


Fossils show giant turtles the size of cars that snacked on crocodiles.


Artwork by Liz Bradford

Giant turtles the size of cars once roamed present day Colombia, fossils show.

The remains of the huge turtle, referred to as Carbonemys cofrinii, or "coal turtle," were uncovered in a coal mine in Colombia in 2005 and date 60 million years.

The findings suggest that the creature snacked on predators like crocodiles.

“It’s like having one big snapping turtle living in the middle of a lake,” said study co-author, Dan Ksepka of North Carolina State, according to Fox News.

“That turtle survives because it has eaten all of the major competitors for resources. We found many bite-marked shells at this site that show crocodilians preyed on side-necked turtles. None would have bothered an adult Carbonemys, though – in fact smaller crocs would have been easy prey for this behemoth"

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The fossils of the beast had not been examined until recently.

"We had recovered smaller turtle specimens from the site," said Edwin Cadena of North Carolina State, who discovered the fossil, reported Live Science.

"But after spending about four days working on uncovering the shell, I realized that this particular turtle was the biggest anyone had found in this area for this time period -- and it gave us the first evidence of gigantism in freshwater turtles," 

The turtle is considered a "Pleurodira," an unusual species that pull their heads into their shells sideways, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Other turtles simply retract their heads backward.

The body was about five feet seven inches with a skull measuring 10 inches, said Wired.

The findings are in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology.