April 24, 2024

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Researchers have named the ancient species of giant tortoise after a Stephen King character who vomits up the universe

Researchers have named the ancient species of giant tortoise after a Stephen King character who vomits up the universe

Researchers have named a newly discovered species of prehistoric giant tortoise after a universe-creating character who appears in Stephen King's novel It, along with the Dark Tower book series.

The monstrous armored reptiles are thought to have lived between 40,000 and 9,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch, during which time they may have lived alongside and perhaps been hunted as a food source by early humans in the Amazon.

The creature's massive jawbone was discovered by workers in a gold mine in Porto Velho, Brazil, and was later digitized by researchers using a hand-held scanner. Based on this data, The researchers estimated The turtle had a huge shell that was about 180 cm long, making it about half a meter larger than the largest freshwater turtle living today.

The fossil's massive dimensions led scientists to name the species Peltocephalus Maturin, A reference to the fictional god-like turtle Maturin, who regurgitated the universe that served as the setting for Stephen King's novel “Him.” The Benevolent Turtle also appears as one of the pack guards featured in the eight-part King Tower book series, which, like it, has been adapted into a live-action film, though perhaps less said about that is better.

As stated in the paper published in Scientific journal Biology Letters – And By the same author on X After reading the news – King's character himself was named in reference to the fictional doctor Stephen Maturin, who, in the context of Patrick O'Brien's seafaring novel HMS Surprise, named a giant tortoise.

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Of course, this isn't the first time scientists have taken inspiration from fictional characters when naming a new discovery. For example, in 2023, a species of Peruvian snake is named Tachymenoides harrisonfordi, a reference to Harrison Ford's snake-hating character Indiana Jones.

We also saw a species of Australian spider called Venomius tomhardi in reference to its distinctive chest markings, while the naturally flaming, eye-like ornamentation gave rise to a newly discovered group of butterfly species called Saurona. On the other end of the size scale, astronomers recently saw fit to name one of the most distant stars ever discovered โ€œEarendel,โ€ in honor of a character from J. R. R. Tolkienโ€™s film The Silmarillion.

Photo credit: Julia de Oliveira

Anthony is a freelance contributor covering science and video game news for IGN. He has over eight years of experience covering breaking developments in multiple scientific fields and has absolutely no time to fool you. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer