Paleontologists Discovered Oldest Turtle Predecessor Species Dating From Cretaceous Era

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The enormous freshwater turtle, that existed around 60 million years ago, is depicted here having just snapped up a crocodylomorph from a patiently awaited lakeside ambush. The adult turtle would have been about the same size as a Smart car, and the shell could have been inverted and used as a kiddie pool. Fossil evidence suggest that the jaws were very powerful and most likely would have crushed mollusks and crocodiles with a single snap. Its large size would have made it virtually impervious to attack from the larger crocodillian species of the era. The turtle evolved in a period after the dinosaurs. This is only an artistic depiction since there is not much fossil remains at this time.

Paleontologists discovered oldest turtle predecessor species that belong to the time of Cretaceous period. Now it can be said that the today’ modern turtles are also having their ancestors from the period of dinosaurs epoch during Mesozoic times, like many reptiles as well as crocodiles.

The Peritresius ornatus was also such kind of the ancestors that had survived in North America, nearly 100 to 66 millions of years back to the date. According to the researchers, Peritresius ornatus was the exclusive species of its king, of which the sister species has been found during a thorough research published in the PLOS ONE, a scientific journal.

“This discovery not only answers several important questions about the distribution and diversity of sea turtles during this period but also provides further evidence that Alabama is one of the best places in the world to study some of the earliest ancestors of modern sea turtles, said Drew Gentry, the leading author of the study.”

New discovery is revealed by George Martin, who is now known as Peritresius martini after identifying the species by fossils obtained from marine sediments in Alabama. Peritresius ornatus has been described in the published study by Andrew Gentry from University of Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, along with the research team.

Study authors explain that, “The heavily vascularized and sculptured dermal elements characteristic of P. ornatus are interpreted here as potentially indicative of a thermoregulatory capability and may have been one of the key factors contributing to the survival of Peritresius into the Maastrichtian, a period of cooling when other lineages of Campanian marine turtles went extinct.”