Archelon (name meaning "Ruling Turtle") is a genus of giant prehistoric marine turtle that originated during the Late Cretaceous period in what is now North America. Measuring almost 5 meters long and weighing over 2 tons with a 7 metered flipper span, this was the largest turtle that ever existed.
A single female Archelon was rescued from the Cretaceous period of 65 million years ago. She resides in the Primeval Aquarium with many other sea creatures.
Era & DiscoveryEdit
Archelon lived during the Late Cretaceous period, 85-65 million years ago in the seas of the Northern Hemisphere. Consequently, several skeletons of Archelon, lacking flippers, were found by various scientists. Most of Archelon skeletons are injured by Mosasaurs or other predators, like Xiphactinus.
The first specimen of Archelon was collected from the Campanian-age Pierre Shaleof South Dakota by Dr. G.R. Wieland in 1895 and described by him the following year.
The largest turtle that has ever existed, Archelon was unlike any modern living turtle. With a 23-26 foot flipper span, reaching 14.7 feet (4.5 m) in length, and a weighing over 3 tons, Archelon was a monster of a reptile that could reach the size of a speedboat at adulthood with a thickened skin mouth; a sting proof, razor-sharp beak was strong enough to cut through shell and bone. Archelon's flippers were powerful enough to propel it through the water for hours on end.
To minimize weight, Archelon's shell was not solid. It was instead made of a series of thin, parallel ribs, with leathery skin stretched across it. Despite its size, Archelon was relatively defenseless. Its head and flippers couldn't be withdrawn, so they were vulnerable to predators like Tylosaurus.
Behavior & TraitsEdit
Despite its size, Archelon was no more aggressive than the modern sea turtles are and actually lacked a hard bony shell, just as the modern leatherback turtle does. That made it vulnerable to attacks by such carnivores as Tylosaurus, Xiphactinus, as well as various Cretaceous sharks and an array of other marine killers would have come into contact with Archelon. It would have been a docile, peaceful wonder of nature, yet it in spite of being at least twice the size of even the greatest Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles, it was far from invulnerable. It is said to have lived in "the single most dangerous seas of all time - Hell's aquarium".
In its own turn, Archelon probably fed on jellyfish, squid, small fish, and other soft bodies creatures as well as ammonites, just as the modern sea turtles do. Since most of its food lived near the surface of the water, Archelon would rarely dive deep. It spent most of its life in the open sea and only ventured onto land to lay their eggs. Since shifting its body onto dry land was such a difficult task, they would lay their eggs at night to minimize the risk of being attacked by land predators such as dinosaurs.