Temporal range: Pleistocene
Ninjemys oweni ("Owen's Ninja Turtle") is an extinct large meiolaniid stem-turtle from Pleistocene Queensland (Australia). It resembled its larger relative, Meiolania, save that the largest pair of horns on its head stuck out to the sides, rather than point backwards.
The first known remains were originally thought to belong to Megalania, and Richard Owen therefore imagined it as a giant Moloch lizard. He later described better remains of the related genus Meiolania from Lord Howe Island, so it was realised that this first known meiolaniid was actually a turtle. It was subsequently moved to this genus by A. S. Woodward as Meiolania oweni. In 1992 anatomical differences lead to its placement in the new genus Ninjemys, which was named in honor of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The paper explained the etymology as "Ninja, in allusion to that totally rad, fearsome foursome epitomizing shelled success; emys, turtle."
Like other meiolaniids, N. oweni is believed to have been an herbivore. Its weight is estimated at 200 kg.
- Woodward, A. S. 1888. "Notes on the Extinct Reptilian Genera Megalania, Owen, and Meiolania, Owen". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Series 6. 1(1): 85-89
- Gaffney, E. S. 1992. "Ninjemys, a new name for "Meiolania" oweni (Woodward), a Horned Turtle from the Pleistocene of Queensland". American Museum Novitates. 3049: 1-10
- MacPhee, R.D.E. (editor), "Extinctions in near time: causes, contexts, and consequences (Advances in Vertebrate Paleobiology)," Springer, 1999. ISBN 978-0-306-46092-0. Page 251. Retrieved June 8, 2010
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