Greek researcher discovers new genus of giant tortoise
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Greek researcher discovers new genus of giant tortoise

The scientific collaboration of a Greek and a Spanish researcher has revealed a new turtle species, that the scientific community was unaware of its existence until now. This new genus Titanochelon was a giant turtle that inhabited Europe and whose fossils were found in Madrid. The research was conducted by the Spaniard Adán Pérez-García, professor in the Department of Paleontology at the University of Madrid and the Greek Evangelos Vlachos of the Department of Geology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

It reached two meters in length and is the largest specimens found in Europe. “This is not just any but the largest turtle that lived in Europe, with a size that could exceed the notorious tortoises currently living in the Galapagos Islands” explains researcher UNED, Adam Perez García.The Titanochelon was a giant tortoise that inhabited Europe from the Miocene and Pleistocene, from about twenty million years ago to less than two million years ago. Its shell could measure up to two meters, was relatively low but broad dimensions and limbs, very robust, were covered ossified by large scales, for a protective shell.The study, published in “Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society” has provided sufficient information to know the family relationship, the origin and distribution of European giant turtles.

The investigation began in 2005 and, by reconstructing the fossils found in the early twentieth century historic sites of significance located in Vallecas, University City and Alcalá de Henares ( Madrid), it was found that the Madrid-kind “is the most abundant and representative of all European giant tortoises,” says Perez-Garcia.