Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Atlas Tortoise

Colossochelys atlas
In the past we have learned all about the massive prehistoric Sea Turtles that once swam the world's oceans, but we have yet to talk about what is possibly the largest land Turtle ever discovered. This creature is even larger than the Galapagos and Aldabara Tortoises-- it had a shell that could grow nearly 7ft long!

The appropriately named Atlas Tortoise lived during the Miocene and Pleistocene periods, and its fossils have been found in India, Pakistan, and Thailand. There is also speculation that they lived as far west as southern Europe. Like their closest modern relatives, they were slow moving, plant eating herbivores.

The Atlas Tortoise probably looked very similar to the Galapagos Tortoise, just longer, taller (nearly 6ft!), and heavier. Their massive, 1,000kg+ bodies were supported by thick, sturdy legs that could, along with the head, retract into the shell when threatened.

There is some controversy about the classification of this species, and it has gone by many names. When first discovered and named back in 1837, they were called Megalochelys sivalensis. Their current name was bestowed in 1844, but was flip flopped around to both Geochelone atlas and Testudo atlas, before coming back to the Colossochelys genus again. It is still sometimes referred to by all four of those genus names, confusing!

Status : Extinct since the Pleistocene (around 1 million years)
Location : South Asia
Size : Shell Length up to 7ft (2.5m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Reptilia -- Order : Testudines
Family : Testudinidae -- Genus : †Colossochelys -- Species : † C. atlas

3 comments:

  1. That's so amazing, especially since I love tortoises. :)

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    Replies
    1. I'm a sulcata tortoise, myself :) glad to join this site! Please "follow" my blog too :)

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  2. Desert Safari Dubai fantastic animal blog. i love to know the different things about animal. i like it. lovely effort made by the owner.

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