Protostega (Greek for "first roof"); pronounced pro-toe-STAY-ga
Shorelines of North America
Late Cretaceous (70-65 million years ago)
Size and Weight:
About 10 feet long and 2 tons
Large size; strong front flippers
Dinosaurs weren't the only plus-sized reptiles to dominate the late Cretaceous period; there were also huge, sea-dwelling prehistoric turtles, one of the most common of which was the North American Protostega. This 10-foot-long, two-ton turtle (second in size only to its close contemporary Archelon) was an accomplished swimmer, as evidenced by its powerful front flippers, and Protostega females were probably capable of swimming for hundreds of miles in order to lay their eggs on land. Befitting its size, Protostega was an opportunistic feeder, snacking on everything from seaweed to mollusks to (perhaps) the corpses of drowned dinosaurs.