Atlas turtle

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Atlas turtle
Colossochelys fossil in the American Museum of Natural History

Colossochely's fossil in the American Museum of Natural History

Temporal occurrence
Miocene to Pliocene
12 to 3 million years
Tortoises (Testudinidae)
Atlas turtle
Scientific name
Colossochelys atlas
Falconer & Cautley , 1844

The Atlas Tortoise ( Colossochelys atlas ) was the largest known land tortoise that has ever lived. The species belonged to the megafauna of Asia .


Atlas turtles are considered to be the largest and heaviest tortoises. The sizes range from 2.50 to 2.70 meters of armor length , up to 1.80 meters in total height and a weight between 900 and 4000 kilograms. The back armor was evenly curved and thickened at the edge. The animals presumably resembled the Seychelles giant tortoises , but were much larger. The belly armor had very elongated and excellent throat shields, which can be understood as a convergence to the Cylindraspis of the Mascarene .


Fossil finds are known from the Miocene to the Pliocene and were found in India and Pakistan , Thailand and on the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi and Timor . Pleistocene fossil finds in cave sediments in Malta also suggest very large turtles. Whether they are Atlas turtles is discussed, but cannot be decided with certainty due to the fragmentary pieces.


  • Megalochelys sivalensis Falconer & Cautley, 1837
  • Colossochelys atlas Falconer & Cautley, 1844
  • Geochelone atlas Falconer & Cautley, 1844
  • Megalochelys atlas Falconer & Cautley, 1844
  • Testudo atlas Lydekker , 1880
  • Testudo atlas Wieland , 1896
  • Testudo atlas Brown, 1931
  • Testudo margae Hooijer , 1954


Web links

Commons : Atlas Turtle ( Colossochelys )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files