A turtle fossil the size of a small car was discovered in northern Colombia, reported newspaper El Colombiano on Thursday.
The fossil, which dates back 60 million years and is the size of a small Mercedes, was found in a coal mine in El Cerrejon in the northern department of Guajira. Scientists discovered other fossilized remains from the same species, but this is the largest ever found.
The fossil from the species coined Carbonemys confrinii or the “turtle of coal” as its been called, was not the first turtle to be discovered in the mine.
“We had recovered smaller turtle specimens from the site, said Edwin Cadena,” a university student who discovered the fossil. “But after spending about four days working on uncovering the shell, I realized that this particular turtle was the biggest anyone had found in this area for this time period — and it gave us the first evidence of giantism in freshwater turtles,” he added.
The turtle possessed a large mandible which allowed him to eat anything from small turtles to crocodiles.
“The turtle survived because it ate almost all of its large food competitors,” stated Dan Ksepka from North Carolina State University.
According to El Colombiano, the turtle’s skull measured 24 centimeters, almost the size of a football and the shell was 172 centimeters long.
This is not the first time previously undiscovered large animals have been found in El Cerrejon. In 2009 residents discovered the largest snake species to ever live on earth, the Titanoboa cerrojenesis.