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Scientists Help Discover Fossil of Prehistoric Turtle in Colombia

from the (Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer

RALEIGH -- A team of paleontologists including scientists from N.C. State University has discovered the fossil remains of a new species of dining table-size freshwater turtle that apparently lived side-by-side with the 50-foot snakes and super-size crocodiles that they had found earlier in the same Colombian coal mine.

Carbonemys cofrinii, or "coal turtle," was well over six feet long from nose to tail. It represents a rapid increase in size from the largest known to have lived just before it, which were about two feet long. That makes it an intriguing piece of the evolutionary puzzle.

In part, said the scientists, that growth spurt may have been a Darwinian strategy to fight off the giant crocs by making the turtle simply too big for dinner.

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