Ankylosaurian turtles (Meiolaniidae) is a family of large herbivorous turtles with heavily armored heads and tails known from South America and most of Oceania. They are best known from the genus, Meiolania (devil turtles), which live in the rainforests, temperate forests, and scrublands of Australia from the Miocene until modern times, and the extinct populations that once lived on Lord Howe Island and New Caledonia until 2000 years ago. A similar form is also known from the Miocene Saint Bathans Fauna of New Zealand.

The family was once thought to have originated in Australia sometime in the Miocene, when the earliest Meiolania first appeared. However, due to the discovery of South American meiolaniids, including Crossochelys and Niolamia in Eocene Argentina, it is now believed that the meiolaniids appeared sometime prior to the breakup of Gondwana during the Cretaceous. Though once believed to be cryptodires, meiolaniids are outside the Testudines crown-group, potentially indicating that their origin is even further back.

Example species

Devil turtle


A devil turtle in San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The devil turtle is a species of basal turtle that is native to Australia and is often found alongside Jack's giant wombats, pignosed giant wombats, bonycheek giant wombats, marsupial tapirs, marsupial pandas, and even kangaroos. They are herbivorous like all species of Ankylosaurian turtles, feeding mainly on grass, roots, tubers, and leaves. The devil turtle has an unusually shaped skull that sports many knob-like and horn-like protrusions. Two large horns faced sideways, giving the skull a total width of 60 centimetres (2.0 ft), and prevents the animal fully withdrawing its head into its shell. Its tail is protected by armored 'rings', and sports thorn-like spikes at the end. The body form of Meiolania may be viewed as having converged towards those of dinosaurian ankylosaurids and xenarthran glyptodonts.

Commom Ankylosaurian turtle


A common Anlylosaurian turtle

A common Anlylosaurian turtle is a species of basal turtle that is native to much of Australia. They are the most common of the Anlylosaurian turtles, being found in much larger numbers and can flourish in almost any habitats of Australia. They are herbivorous and feed on wide varieties of plant matter, including grass, seeds, roots, tubers, vegetables, flowers, leaves, fruits, etc. It can often weigh about 200 kg and is almost as large as a devil turtle.
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