Revision of the extinct Pleistocene tortoise Testudo lunellensis Almera and Bofill, 1903 from Cova de Gràcia (Barcelona, Spain)

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Testudo lunellensis Almera and Bofill, 1903 from the Middle Pleistocene of Cova de Gràcia (Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain) is a valid species belonging to the clade of the extant Testudo hermanni – a diagnostic feature being the narrowed vertebral scutes. Thanks to still unpublished material, T. lunellensis is diagnosed for the first time and its shell morphology described in detail. This species is uniquely characterized, among others, by tall peripheral bones and by a peculiar shape of the anterior lobe of the plastron, somewhat recalling the species referred to Testudo s.s. (the clade containing the extant species Testudo graeca, Testudo kleinmanni and Testudo marginata). Given that the purported valid species from Lunel-Viel (Middle Pleistocene, France) is still unnamed and undescribed, T. lunellensis from Cova de Gràcia is currently the stratigraphically youngest extinct Testudo species. The co-occurrence in T. lunellensis of characters typical of both T. hermanni and Testudo s.s. further testifies the phenotypic plasticity of tortoises and the mosaic distribution of morphological characters, which hinders a clear-cut assessment of the relationships of extant tortoises when based exclusively on morphology. Further analyses of the phylogeny of Testudo should consider fossil and extant taxa together, as well as both morphological and genetic characters.

Revision of the extinct Pleistocene tortoise Testudo lunellensis Almera and Bofill, 1903 from Cova de Gràcia (Barcelona, Spain)

in Amphibia-Reptilia

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References

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Figures

  • View in gallery

    Testudo lunellensis Almera and Bofill, 1903 from Cova de Gràcia (Barcelona, Spain). (A) carapace IPS 57549 in right lateral view, showing the high peripherals. (B-E) plastron of the same specimen: (B) ventral, (C) dorsal (detail of the anterior lobe), (D) anterior, (E) right lateral. Note that the anterior lobe is dorsally bent and that the epiplastral pads are well developed, with an overhanging convex posterodorsal edge that forms a moderate gular pocket. Scale bar equals 10 cm.

  • View in gallery

    Testudo lunellensis Almera and Bofill 1903 from Cova de Gràcia (Barcelona, Spain). (A) anterior lobe of the plastron MSCB 25197, showing the relationships between the humero-pectoral sulcus and the entoplastron; (B) posterior lobe of the plastron MGB MGC 33122 in ventral view, showing the female morphology of the xiphiplastra. Scale bar equals 10 mm.

  • View in gallery

    Testudo lunellensis Almera and Bofill, 1903 from Cova de Gràcia (Barcelona, Spain). (A-B) anterior lobe of the plastron in dorsal view, showing the thick epiplastral pads variably developed in posterior direction: (A) MSCB 28193; (B) MGB MGC 20839. Note that the anterior profile of the lobe is not truncated as in IPS 57549. (C) ventral view of the anterior lobe of the plastron MGB MGC 20839 with the surface of the epiplastra characterized by a depression (a character particularly well-developed in this large size specimen, but also present in others). Scale bars equal 10 mm.

  • View in gallery

    Testudo lunellensis Almera and Bofill 1903 from Cova de Gràcia (Barcelona, Spain). Reconstruction of the shell based on the information provided by the available material. (A-C) shell in dorsal, ventral, and lateral views: (D) anterior lobe of the plastron in dorsal view. Note that variability is not represented in this drawing (in particular that of the relationships between the humero-pectoral sulcus and the entoplastron, as well as the configuration of the suprapygal area).

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