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Temporal range: Cretaceous, 120–83.5 Ma
Desmatochelys lowi skull.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Protostegidae
Genus: Desmatochelys
Williston, 1894
Type species
Desmatochelys lowi
Williston, 1894

Desmatochelys is an extinct genus of sea turtles belonging to the family Protostegidae.[2][3]


Members of the genus are characterised by the extended skull roof, large nasal bones, a paddle-like humerus and a distinct body shell or carapace.[4]


The genus contains the following species:

According to Elizabeth L. Nicholls the genus should be expanded to include closely related members that belong to Notochelone and Rhinochelys.[5]

As of 2015, D. padillai is the oldest known species of sea turtles.[6]


  1. ^ Edwin A. Cadena and James F. Parham (2015). "Oldest known marine turtle? A new protostegid from the Lower Cretaceous of Colombia". PaleoBios. 32 (1): 1–42.
  2. ^ Karl, H. V., & Tichy, G. (2010). Maorichelys wiffeni n. gen. n. sp., una nueva tortuga marina del Eoceno de Nueva Zelanda (Testudines: Dermochelyidae).
  3. ^ "Introduction to Testudines". UCMP Berkeley. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Desmatochelys". Paleos. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  5. ^ Nicholls, Elizabeth L. (1992). "Note on the occurrence of the marine turtle Desmatochelys (Reptilia: Chelonioidea) from the Upper Cretaceous of Vancouver Island". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 29 (2): 377–380. doi:10.1139/e92-033.
  6. ^ Jandial, Shraddha (8 September 2015). "Oldest fossil sea turtle discovered in Colombia". India Today. Retrieved 18 September 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Calloway, Jack; Nicholls, Elizabeth, eds. (1997). Ancient Marine Reptiles. Academic Press. p. 243. ISBN 9780080527215.