A 12-foot Titanic turtle traveled the ocean 80 million years ago, new fossils show

An artist’s rendering of this newly discovered extinct turtle Leviathanochelys aenigmatica it might have looked like. (Image credit: ICRA_Arts)

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Paleontologists have discovered an extinct species of giant sea turtle that had never been seen before in Spain. The titanic turtle probably had a body length of about 12.3 feet (3.7 meters)—more than twice the size of modern sea turtles—and is the largest turtle species ever discovered in Europe.

The new species, which the researchers named Leviathanochelys aenigmaticawas identified from a complete pelvis fossil and fossilized shell fragments uncovered between 2016 and 2021 at the Cal Torrades site in northeastern Spain, researchers said in a statement (opens in new tab). The giant turtle likely traveled Europe’s ancient oceans between 83.6 and 72.1 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period (145 million to 66 million years ago).

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