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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, 83.5 Ma
Protostega Gigas.jpg
Mounted skeleton
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Protostegidae
Genus: Protostega
Cope, 1872
Type species
Protostega gigas
Cope, 1872
Protostega skeletal reconstruction in the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, Woodland Park, Colorado
Pencil restoration

Protostega ('first roof') is an extinct genus of sea turtle containing a single species, Protostega gigas. Its fossil remains have been found in the Smoky Hill Chalk formation of western Kansas (Hesperornis zone, dated to 83.5 million years ago[1]) and time-equivalent beds of the Mooreville Chalk Formation of Alabama.[2] Fossil specimens of this species were first collected in 1871, and named by Edward Drinker Cope in 1872.[3] With a length of 3 metres (9.8 ft), it is the second-largest sea turtle that ever lived, second only to the giant Archelon,[4] and the third-largest turtle of all time behind Archelon and Stupendemys.[5]


  1. ^ Carpenter, K. (2003). "Vertebrate Biostratigraphy of the Smoky Hill Chalk (Niobrara Formation) and the Sharon Springs Member (Pierre Shale)." High-Resolution Approaches in Stratigraphic Paleontology, 21: 421-437. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-9053-0
  2. ^ Kiernan, Caitlin R. (2002). "Stratigraphic distribution and habitat segregation of mosasaurs in the Upper Cretaceous of western and central Alabama, with an historical review of Alabama mosasaur discoveries". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 22 (1): 91–103. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2002)022[0091:SDAHSO]2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  3. ^ Cope, Edward Drinker (1872). "A description of the genus Protostega". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia: 422–433.
  4. ^ Lutz, Peter L.; John A. Musick (1996). The Biology of Sea Turtles. CRC PRess. p. 432pp. ISBN 0-8493-8422-2.
  5. ^ Wood, R.C. (1976). "Stupendemys geographicus, the world's largest turtle." Breviora, 436: 1-31.