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Temporal range: Late Miocene–Middle Pleistocene
Colossochelys atlas.jpg
M. atlas skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History
Scientific classification e
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Testudinidae
Genus: Megalochelys
Falconer & Cautley, 1837[1][2]
  • Colossochelys Falconer & Cautley, 1844[1][3]

Megalochelys is an extinct genus of cryptodiran tortoise which lived from the Miocene to Pleistocene, across Asia and possibly East Europe. They are noted for their giant size, which is among the largest of any known testudine, with a maximum carapace length of over two metres in M. atlas.

This fossil genus is the original and valid name for what has been called Colossochelys. It contains three named species with several unnamed taxa.[1]


It is widely suspected that the genus went extinct due to the arrival of Homo erectus, due to staggered extinctions on islands coinciding with the arrival of H. erectus in these regions, as well as evidence of exploitation by H. erectus.[5] The genus was largely extinct by the end of the Early Pleistocene, but persisted on Timor into the Middle Pleistocene.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Rhodin, A.G.J.; Thomson, S.; Georgalis, G.; Karl, H.-V.; Danilov, I.G.; Takahashi, A.; de la Fuente, M.S.; Bourque, J.R.; Delfino M.; Bour, R.; Iverson, J.B.; Shaffer, H.B.; van Dijk, P.P.; et al. (Turtle Extinctions Working Group) (2015). "Turtles and tortoises of the world during the rise and global spread of humanity: first checklist and review of extinct Pleistocene and Holocene chelonians" (PDF). Chelonian Research Monographs. 5(8):000e.1–66. doi:10.3854/crm.5.000e.fossil.checklist.v1.2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-07-18. Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  2. ^ Falconer, H. and Cautley, P.T. 1837. On additional fossil species of the order Quadrumana from the Siwalik Hills. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 6:354–360.
  3. ^ a b Falconer, H. and Cautley, P.T. 1844. Communication on the Colossochelys atlas, a fossil tortoise of enormous size from the Tertiary strata of the Siwalk Hills in the north of India. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1844(12):54–84.
  4. ^ Lydekker, R. 1889. Catalogue of the Fossil Reptilia and Amphibia in the British Museum. Part III. Chelonia. London: British Museum of Natural History, 239 pp.
  5. ^ a b c d e Rhodin, Anders; Pritchard, Peter; van Dijk, Peter Paul; Saumure, Raymond; Buhlmann, Kurt; Iverson, John; Mittermeier, Russell, eds. (2015-04-16). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises. Chelonian Research Monographs. 5 (First ed.). Chelonian Research Foundation. doi:10.3854/crm.5.000e.fossil.checklist.v1.2015. ISBN 978-0-9653540-9-7.
  6. ^ Anders G.J. Rhodin; Scott Thomson; Georgios L. Georgalis; Hans-Volker Karl; Igor G. Danilov; Akio Takahashi; Marcelo S. de la Fuente; Jason R. Bourque; Massimo Delfino; Roger Bour; John B. Iverson; H. Bradley Shaffer; Peter Paul van Dijk (2015). "Turtles and Tortoises of the World During the Rise and Global Spread of Humanity: First Checklist and Review of Extinct Pleistocene and Holocene Chelonians" (PDF). Chelonian Research Monographs. 5 (8): 000e.1–66. doi:10.3854/crm.5.000e.fossil.checklist.v1.2015.