By studying the shells and lower jaw fossils, researchers discovered the males had horned shells to protect their skulls. This specimen, they say, weighed more than 1,100 kilos and lived in lakes and freshwater rivers located in the north of South America between 7 and 13 million years ago.
The giant growth of the freshwater turtles is not completely surprising: "Already 1976 Stupendemys geographicus was described for the first time on the basis of finds in Venezuela, "says turtle specialist Uwe Fritz from the Museum of Animal Science of the Senckenberg Natural History Collections in Dresden".
The new fossils were found in the Tatacoa desert of Colombia and the Urumaco region of Venezuela. He named it Stupendemys for its large size and geographicus in recognition to all the support that National Geographic Society has given to fossil turtle research, according to Edwin Cadena, study author, geologist and vertebrate paleontologist at Del Rosario University in Colombia.
LiveScience notes that the shell belonged to an extinct monster called Stupendemys geographicus.
One of the specimens described in the latest study - published this week in the journal Science Advances - boasted a shell almost 10 feet across.
The newly recovered jaw pieces are expected to shed some light on what the turtle ate, Cadena said.
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At some point, that which had come to signify their success on earth, the conquering of their environment - their huge size - was no longer enough to keep them alive.
In some individuals, the complete carapace showed a peculiar and unexpected feature: horns.
Although they don't know what exactly caused it to go extinct, researchers know that its habitat was disrupted when the Andes mountains rose and separated the Amazon, Orinoco and Magdalena rivers.
The turtles' large size may have allowed them to defend themselves against formdiable predators. Their diets are similar.
"Its diet was diverse including small animals - fishes, caimans, snakes - as well as mollusks and vegetation, particularly fruits and seeds".
These freshwater turtles were nearly twice as heavy as the largest ones today relatives still alive: leatherback turtles that live in the warmer seas up to the coasts of Scotland and have a weight of 650 Develop kilograms and a tank of 2, 13 meters. "And knowing the evolutionary history of extant species is a key part of to formulate integral plans and educate for their conservation".