Fun Archelon Turtle Facts For Kids

Shirin Biswas
Oct 20, 2022 By Shirin Biswas
Originally Published on Sep 27, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Here are some Archelon facts for you to ponder over today!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.6 Min

Archelon is recognized all over the world as the largest sea turtle! The fossil remains of this genus have been discovered in parts of the USA such as Wyoming and South Dakota. The specific site which is known to be rich in Archelon fossils is called the Pierre Shale formation.

The shell and skeleton of this ancient animal have given scientists and paleontologists food for thought throughout the years of its discovery. Interestingly, the closest living relatives of the Archelon are sea turtles!

For more relatable content, check out Palaeosaurus and Hungarosaurus.

Archelon Turtle Interesting Facts

Was the Archelon turtle a dinosaur?

The Archelon was a giant sea turtle that lived from the late Campanian to early Maastrichtian of the Cretaceous period. Though this marine turtle species lived during the same age as many dinosaur species, they cannot be classified as dinosaurs.

How do you pronounce 'Archelon turtle'?

The name of this prehistoric animal would be pronounced as 'are-kell-on'.

What type of prehistoric reptile was an Archelon turtle?

The Archelon was a marine turtle whose fossil remains have been discovered from sites in South Dakota.

These turtles were in fact the largest turtle species to ever have lived on this planet!

In which geological period did the Archelon turtle live?

The geological period during which these turtles are estimated to have lived on the face of the Earth is from the late Campanian to early Maastrichtian of the Cretaceous period. If you too are confused about these complicated names and would like to know the timeline around which the Archelon turtles could have been seen on this planet, you will be astounded to know that these turtles lived no less than 74-80 million years ago!

When did the Archelon turtle become extinct?

There are no studies that would tell us the timeline when we could term the Archelon extinct. However, it may be assumed that if these animals managed to live throughout the Cretaceous period, they might have become extinct around 66 million years ago. The reasons for extinction, as estimated by paleontologists all over the world, include sea shrinkage and climate change.

Where did an Archelon turtle live?

Since this animal is defined as a sea turtle, it is hardly a secret that these turtles lived in seas and oceans. It is assumed through the body shape and the size of the flippers of the animal that it was well equipped when it came to taking up long journeys across the oceans.

What was an Archelon turtle's habitat?

The fossil remains of these turtles have mostly been found in South Dakota and Wyoming in the USA. While this is not sufficient information or evidence to term these turtles as endemic, it may be concluded that most of the population was concentrated in these areas. The site or formation where the fossils of this turtle (Archelon) genus have been found is called Pierre Shale.

Who did an Archelon turtle live with?

While we hardly know the society in which this giant turtle lived, the fact that it was the largest turtle known to humans does suggest that it might not always have had the largest groups. The group size of this animal is likely to have been small and limited to other sea turtle genera.

How long did an Archelon turtle live?

The average lifespan of this turtle species is not known through any research or data. At the same time, the exact time of extinction of the species is unclear too, because the causes of extinction may have been varied, and no conclusion has been reached regarding it.

How did they reproduce?

Like modern turtles, the Archelon Ischyros was also an oviparous species. That is to say that these turtles reproduced by laying eggs. Similar to how modern turtles lay eggs today, the Archelon ischyros would have had to come out of the water in order to lay eggs on the sandy shores of the seaside. This would have also made the eggs and hatchlings vulnerable to predation by dinosaurs of the area. This, in fact, is speculated to have been one of the factors that may have led to the extinction of these beautiful turtles of prehistoric times.

Archelon Turtle Fun Facts

What did an Archelon turtle look like?

The fossil remains of this species were found in South Dakota.

The most striking feature of these animals is their sheer might and size. The flipper to flipper length, as well as the head to tail length, are so enormous that this animal could easily be twice as big as an average human being!

The shell, however, is treated as an object of particular interest because it reveals the dynamic that would have helped the animal in swimming across the oceans. Interestingly, this animal was so large that the tail alone had 18 vertebrae!

How many bones did an Archelon turtle have?

The total number of bones that the Archelon ischyros had is not clear through any informative journal since the entire skeletal figure is yet to be found. The holotype specimen of these marine creatures consists of the shell and the body skeleton. The skull of the turtle genus was found separately from another site. Since the shell and other bones of these animals were hardly ever found in an undamaged state, it is hard for any paleontologist to predict the exact number of bones that the fully grown Archelon ischyros would have had.

How did they communicate?

The mode of communication is not known as yet, however, it may be assumed that like modern turtles, the Archelon ischyros would have communicated through signals. These signals could have been both visual and physical.

How big was an Archelon turtle?

The average Archelon size from head to tail is estimated to have been around 15 ft (4.6 m), while the length from flipper to flipper would be around 13 ft (4 m). As you can already tell, these animals have been termed the largest sea turtles for the simple reason that they were huge!

The closest living relative species of this animal is a sea turtle. As compared to modern-day sea turtles, the average Archelon would be at least thrice as big!

How fast could an Archelon turtle move?

While we do not know exactly how fast these turtles could move with the heavy shell and exceptionally large body, it is assumed that they were capable of steady swimming with the help of strong flapping.

How much did an Archelon turtle weigh?

The average weight of this sea turtle is estimated to have been around 4900 lb (2200 kg). As is quite evident, a large portion of the weight would have consisted of the humongous shell that this animal carried on its back!

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for the two sexes of the Archelon ischyros.

What would you call a baby Archelon turtle?

The baby Archelon would be called hatching, simply because the juvenile of this sea turtle species would hatch out of an egg!

What did they eat?

This giant sea turtle, in spite of what may be assumed from the huge shell, only fed on small mollusks and fish. The beak-like mouth was heavy and equipped to crush the shell of mollusks efficiently. Paleontologists suggest that the Archelon's diet would be satisfied very easily as this animal swam through the ocean floor in search of the wide selection of mollusks that were readily available.

How aggressive were they?

While the giant size of these creatures may speak otherwise, it is actually quite improbable that the Archelon would have been an aggressive animal. The only time that these animals would have been on the ground was during the mating season.

Did you know...

The largest specimen of Archelon may be seen at the Museum of Natural History in Vienna.

This turtle (Archelon) was the largest sea turtle to ever have lived on the surface of the earth.

An average Archelon would be able to dive to the very bottom of the ocean in search of mollusks to feed on.

This animal was discovered by George Reber Weiland.

What does the name 'Archelon' mean?

The name Archelon can be literally translated from Greek to mean 'early turtle'. When it comes to the name Archelon, Greece also has a sea turtle society by the name!

What are Archelon turtle ancestors to?

Archelon is known to be ancestors of modern-day sea turtles, although, the latter is quite a lot smaller in size!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Metriorhynchus facts and Gargoyleosaurus facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Archelon turtle coloring pages.

Archelon Turtle Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Small mollusks and fishes

what Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


What Did They Look Like?


How Much Did They Weigh?

4900 lb (2200 kg)

Skin Type


How Long Were They?

13 ft (4 m)

How Tall Were They?

15 ft (4.6 m)









Scientific Name

Archelon ischyros

What Were Their Main Threats?

Climate change

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Oceans and seas

Where Did They Live?

North America
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Written by Shirin Biswas

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Shirin Biswas picture

Shirin BiswasBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.

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