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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Friday, 18 May 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Friday Creature Feature: Coal Turtle

coal turtle bradfordThere was once a turtle so large, they say it was the size of a Smart car and that if it had wanted it could have eaten a small crocodile.

That’s what paleontologists from North Carolina State University have concluded in a paper recently published about the discovery of 60 million year old fossil they call Carbonemys.

In 2005 Edward Cadena, a doctoral student from the university, discovered the turtle’s fossilized remains in a coal mine in present-day Colombia. It lived 5 million years after the dinosaurs disappeared and according to the article it lived amongst other giant reptiles. This same part of South America was home to the Titanoboa cerrejonensis a 40 to 50 foot snake that weighed about 2,500 pounds and also liked to eat small crocodiles.

Here are the stats for Carbonemys cofrinii or coal turtle:

-Its skull is 24 centimeters long or about 9 inches.

-The shell is 172 centimeters or 5 feet 7 inches. Fun fact: This is the same height as Al Pacino and Cadena.

For comparison Galapagos tortoises are about the same length (a little shorter) but they are land based unlike the coal turtle who spent most of his time in the water. The tortoises peacefully graze on vegetation while the coal turtle uses it menacing jaw to eat smaller turtles. Coal turtles are side-neck turtles: part the Pelomedusidae family which means they can’t bring their necks fully into their shell. Instead they withdraw their heads just enough so they can tuck it under their shell. The artist’s rendering show a turtle that brings to mind a Apatosaurus or Brontosaurus as we commonly call them or maybe even the fabled Loch Ness Monster.

The turtle, unlike Nessie, was indeed real but was rare. Cadena said so himself about the turtle: "We had recovered smaller turtle specimens from the site. 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."

A giant freshwater turtle with a massive jaw is yet another example of an ancient creature we are glad isn’t swimming in our lakes and ponds today. They wouldn’t have made a suitable pet because they would have tried to eat any other pet in the vicinity. There is no terrarium sold at the pet store that could have held him so you would have to put it in a pool and then never ever get to swim in your own pool ever again. Worst pet ever.

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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