Madrid, 17 (Europe Press)
The study on the new species, Leviathanochelys aenigmatica, has been published in Scientific Reports by the research team from the Institut Catala de Paleontology Miquel Crusafont and other institutions.
Its scientific name means “mystical leviathan turtle,” a reference to the Leviathan – a biblical sea monster of gigantic proportions? Because of the strange skeletal characteristics of this animal, which baffled the paleontologists who excavated it. She lived 83 million years ago.
“The surprise was great. The truth is that remains of marine reptiles in the Pyrenees are not uncommon, and below these dimensions,” explains Oscar Castillo, researcher at the Instituto Catalla de Paleontology Miguel Crosafonte (ICP) and Museo de la Conca della (MCD), who signs the article search.
The fossil remains of this reptile, of which only part of its shell and pelvis are known, allow us to estimate the total length of the shell, which was 3.7 meters. It is the largest sea turtle in Europe and the second largest in the world, surpassed only by the North American genus Archelon, which reaches a length of four and a half meters. “The shape of the fossils was also very intriguing,” says the paleontologist, “in the process of searching we were clear that they were a new species for science.”
Scientific study indicates that Leviathanochelys is one of the oldest representatives of Chelonioidea, the group that includes all living sea turtles. Besides its gigantic proportions, the new species of turtle presents bumps on the front of the pelvis not seen in any other turtle, whether land or sea.
The research team believes that these bony protrusions, which are associated with the muscles that control contraction of the animal’s abdomen, could have been involved in respiratory-related functions in Leviathanochelys.
The anatomical features of this new species indicate that it inhabited the marine depths and was able to reach great depths.
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