Fossil of Giant Freshwater Turtle Discovered

Posted on March 18, 2024

Peltocephalus maturin

Scientists have discovered the fossil of an ancient freshwater turtle. The turtle had a huge shell length of nearly six feet (180 centimeters). A visualization of the new discovered giant turtle is pictured.

The research team was led by Dr. Gabriel S. Ferreira from the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen. Peltocephalus maturin is between 40,000 and 9,000 years old and comes from the Brazilian Amazon.

The armored reptile was named after the giant turtle "Maturin," a fictional character by bestselling author Stephen King.

Dr. Ferreira says in the announcement, "In the past, we only know of a few turtles living in fresh waters that had a shell length of more than 150 centimeters. Such large animals are most recently known primarily from the Miocene, the period around 23 to five million years ago."

Dr. Ferreira says, "People settled in the Amazon region around 12,600 years ago. We also know that large tortoises have been on the diet of hominins since the Paleolithic. Whether freshwater turtles, which are much more difficult to catch due to their agility, were also eaten by early humans and whether Peltocephalus maturin – together with the South American megafauna – fell victim to human expansion is still unclear."

This video shows a size comparison of the giant turtle and its modern relatives.

The research was published in the journal, Biology Letters.

Image: Júlia d‘Oliveira

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