Saturday, September 24, 2022

[Paleontology • 2021] Stupendemys geographicus • New Insights on the Anatomy and Ontogeny of the largest Extinct Freshwater Turtles

Stupendemys geographicus Wood, 1976

in Cadena, Link, ... et Tallman, 2021. 

There are many questions regarding the largest freshwater turtle that ever existed, including how its morphology changed during its ontogeny and how a single ecosystem was able to support more than one group of giant turtles. Here, we report the first individual preserving an associated skull and shell for Stupendemys geographica (currently the largest known side-necked turtle) and a nearly complete skull of Caninemys tridentata found in Miocene rocks of the Tatacoa Desert in Colombia. These two specimens indicate that more than two large freshwater turtle species shared a single ecosystem during the middle Miocene in northern South America. We also show the changes in the shell and scutes that occurred along the ontogeny of S. geographica, including a flattening of the carapace, constriction of the vertebral scutes, and increase in the height and thickness of the nuchal upturn wall; some of these changes are also evident in extant representatives of Podocnemididae, and have implications for a better understanding of their phylogeny.
Keywords: Giant turtles, Colombia, Miocene, Paleobiology, South America, Tatacoa

Edwin-Alberto Cadena, Andrés Link, Siobhán B. Cooke, Laura K. Stroik, Andrés F. Vanegas and Melissa Tallman. 2021. New Insights on the Anatomy and Ontogeny of the largest Extinct Freshwater Turtles. Heliyon. 7(12); e08591.  DOI: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e08591