Discovery Location: South Dakota
Period: Late Cretaceous
Age: 74 million years
Formation: Pierre Group
Width: 17 feet between flippers
Location of Original Specimen: National Natural History Museum Vienna Austria
The Archelon was the largest of the turtles living or extinct. This specimen is the largest and most complete ever found. Scientists believe that the Archelon used its massive front flippers to glide through the water in a way similar to a bird flying. Like modern green sea turtles, Archelon had a hard shell that covered a bony framework.
Based on what is known about sea turtles today, scientists expect that these huge creatures ate plants, fish or sea jellies. This Archelon was estimated to be more than 4,500 pounds while it was alive, with a life span probably around 100 years.