The evolution and occurrence of fossil sea turtles at the Pacific margin of South America is poorly known and restricted to Neogene (Miocene/Pliocene) findings from the Pisco Formation, Peru. Here we report and describe the first record of Oligocene (late Oligocene, ~24 Ma) Pan-Cheloniidae sea turtle remains of South America. The fossil material corresponds to a single, isolated and well-preserved costal bone found at the Montañita/Olón locality, Santa Elena Province, Ecuador. Comparisons with other Oligocene and extant representatives allow us to confirm that belongs to a sea turtle characterized by: lack of lateral ossification, allowing the dorsal exposure of the distal end of ribs; dorsal surface of bone sculptured, changing from dense vermiculation at the vertebral scute region to anastomosing pattern of grooves at the most lateral portion of the costal. This fossil finding shows the high potential that the Ecuadorian Oligocene outcrops have in order to explore the evolution and paleobiogeography distribution of sea turtles by the time that the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans were connected via the Panama basin.
Cadena, E., Abella, J., & Gregori, M. (2018). The first Oligocene sea turtle (Pan-Cheloniidae) record of South America. PeerJ, 2018(3). https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4554