A new species of ancient turtle discovered in Spain may be one of the largest marine turtles ever found. With an estimated length of 3.74 meters, it is the largest marine turtle ever found in Europe. The largest known marine turtles, such as the extinct Archelon, which could grow to 4.6 meters long and weigh 3.2 tons, lived in the oceans around the North American continent until the end of the Cretaceous period. In contrast, no known European marine turtle (extinct or living) has a shell length greater than 1.5 meters. Spanish researchers report a new species of marine turtle, named Leviathanochelys aenigmatica, found in the Cal Torrades region of northeastern Spain, which is close in size to the genus Archaeopteryx. Excavated between 2016 and 2021, the remains consist of a fragmented but nearly complete pelvis and a partial upper cover (shell), dating to the Campanian Age (c.83.1-72.1 million years ago). Based on the size of the pelvis, the researchers calculated that Leviathanochelys may have reached a length of 3.74 meters. These findings suggest that the large size of marine turtles developed independently in different lineages in North America and Europe.
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