Fossil sea turtle is 25 million years older than earlier discoveries

2015-09-15 10:28

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Frankfurt (dpa) - Scientists have described what they say is the world's oldest known fossil sea turtle, 25 million years older than the previously known oldest specimen.

Discovered in Colombia, the reptile lived at least 120 million years ago, the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany said in a press release.

"Based on the animals' morphology and the sediments they were found in, we are certain that we are indeed dealing with the oldest known fossil sea turtle," said Edwin Cadena, a Colombian turtle expert and scholar at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the institute.

Cadena was referring to an almost completely preserved skeleton, four additional skulls and two partially preserved shells that he and a colleague from the United States had examined.

The fossilized remains were found by amateur palaeontologists in 2007 at two sites near the Colombian community of Villa de Leyva.

Nearly 2m in length, the Cretaceous-period skeleton shows all of the characteristic traits of modern sea turtles, according to Cadena's study, which was published in the US scientific journal PaleoBios.

Sea turtles are descended from terrestrial and freshwater turtles that arose approximately 230 million years ago.

The study placed the fossils in the turtle group Chelonioidea. Turtles in this group dwell in tropical and subtropical oceans; among their representatives today are the hawksbill sea turtle and green sea turtle.

Read more on:    marine life

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