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Temporal range: ?Cretaceous or Eocene to Holocene
|Ninjemys oweni & Meiolania platyceps|
Meiolaniidae is an extinct family of large, possibly herbivorous turtles with heavily armored heads and tails. They are best known from the last surviving genus, Meiolania, which lived in the rainforests of Australia from the Oligocene until the Pleistocene, and relict populations that lived on Lord Howe Island and New Caledonia until 2000 years ago.
The family was once thought to have originated in Australia sometime in the Oligocene, when the earliest Meiolania first appeared. However, due to the discovery of South American meiolaniids, including Crossochelys in Eocene Argentina, and the problematic Niolamia argentina (problematic, as researchers are unsure whether it dates from the Cretaceous, or Eocene), it is now believed that the meiolaniids appeared sometime prior to the breakup of Gondwana during the Cretaceous.
- Meiolania platyceps Owen (The Australian Museum; photo)
- Mikko's Phylogeny Archive on Cryptodira
- 201006 PNAS article Megafaunal meiolaniid horned turtles survived until early human settlement in Vanuatu, Southwest Pacific
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