When we discuss survival of the fittest, the very first image that frequently enters your mind is that of giant, vicious predators efficient in eliminating their method to supremacy– whether that’s Tyrannosaurus rex or the huge ichthyosaurs that as soon as controlled the ocean.

While those titans went extinct eons back, a few of the huge reptiles that lived along with them– particularly, turtles– focused more on protective techniques, assisting them endure versus such terrifying predators. Paleontologists found a sea turtle fossil in Colombia going back a minimum of 120 million years ago to the Cretaceous; on the other hand Odontochelys semitestacea, a fossil found in China, is a near-turtle relative going back 220 million years ago

Which turtles were the biggest to ever stroll or swim the Earth, big enough to withstand the attacks of intense Cretaceous predators? Here are a couple of that put our modern-day leatherbacks and Galapagos tortoises to embarassment.

1. Archelon ischyros: The Largest Known Turtle

This fossil of a huge sea tortoise lives in the Natural History Museum Vienna; the types it originated from (Archelon ischyros) is the biggest of all understood turtles. (Credit: frantic00/Shutterstock)

The biggest turtles ever found go back to the late Cretaceous, about 74 million years earlier. The types Archelon ischyros was a sea turtle that might have extended beyond 15 feet long– more than two times as long as leatherbacks.

These turtles resembled sea turtles today in look, however their large size puts them in another league entirely. They most likely consumed jellies and shellfishes like lots of sea turtles today. An almost total 16-foot specimen was found in the 1970s in North Dakota and is now housed at the Nature Museum of Vienna


Learn more: Whatever to Know About the Secret World of Sea Turtles


2. Protostega gigas: The 2,000-Pound Behemoth

An etching from the 19th century revealing the huge sea turtle Protostega gigas. (powerofforever/Shutterstock)

While not rather as huge as Archelon Protostega gigas was still a giant of the late Cretaceous. These turtles swam in the inland sea that crossed North America from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

A few of these surpassed 12 feet and weighed more than 2,000 poundsbased upon fossil specimens discovered by researchers. Protostega gigas most likely had a comparable diet plan to Archelonand some fossils have actually been discovered with shark teeth ingrained insideexposing that their tough shells weren’t constantly a deterrent for marine predators.


Find out more: How Old Is the Oldest Sea Turtle?


3. Leviathanochelys aenigmatica: Europe’s Largest Known Turtle

A detailed representation of Leviathanochelys aenigmatica. (Credit: ICRA_Arts)

This ancient animal was very first found in the southern Pyrenees in Spain. When explained in 2022, big turtles had actually been discovered in fossils deposits in North America, however this was the greatest European specimen

“Based on the hips size, it is most likely that Leviathanochelys [[aenigmatica] was as big as Archelontherefore turning into one of the biggest marine turtles discovered to ever exist,” composed the authors of the research study. They assumed that the sea turtle most likely invested much of its time in the ocean blue. Very little else is learnt about this animal– aside from the hips, the scientists just recuperated part of the back of the shell.


Find out more: Why Were Prehistoric Marine Reptiles So Huge?


4. Ocepechelon bouyai: The Turtle That Utilized Its Snout To Suck Up Food

A detailed restoration of Ocepechelon bouyai. (Credit: C. Letenneur/MNHN/CC-BY)

The types Ocepechelon bouyai was discovered in Moroccan deposits going back to the late Cretaceous. This animal had actually an extended head– more than 2 feet long– and most likely fed through suction. “The feeding device of Ocepechelona bony pipette-like snout, is distinct amongst tetrapods,” the authors of a 2013 research study composed

Paleontologists have actually just discovered the skull of this types, however based upon contrasts with Archelon and Protostega skulls, the animal may have been more than 7.5 feet long from snout to tail, the authors of that research study composed. This odd kind of feeding for a huge turtle shows the extremely varied types that chelonians took near completion of the Cretaceous– before the Chicxulub asteroid effect put an end to a number of them.


Find out more: 5 of one of the most Interesting Prehistoric Marine Reptiles


5. Stupendemys geographicus: The Living Tank

An artist’s illustration of Stupendemys geographicus. (Credit: JA Chirinos)

Similar to today, the majority of the most significant turtles of the previous adhered to the sea. Not so with Stupendemys geographicus — a huge tank of a freshwater turtle that weighed more than 2,500 pounds and lurked lakes and rivers throughout the Miocene. It weighed about two times as much as leatherback sea turtles, and the males might have had horns on the front of their shells.

This reptile, which resided in Colombia and Venezuela, had a shell about 7.9 feet long. Bite marks reveal that big caimans may have attempted their luck on this armored giant. Their closest living loved ones are the water (and comparably little) Amazon river turtles.


Find out more: Why Are Sea Turtles Endangered and How Can We Save Them?


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