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A Cladistic Analysis of Geochelone Using Cranial Osteology

Charles R. Crumly
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 16, No. 3 (Sep., 1982), pp. 215-234
DOI: 10.2307/1563715
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1563715
Page Count: 20
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A Cladistic Analysis of Geochelone Using Cranial Osteology
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Abstract

Cladistic analyses of 26 selected cranial characters of Geochelone did not support the implications of previous classifications. Most subgenera do not share derived features and, thus, are not considered monophyletic. The subgenus Manouria (G. emys and G. impressa), although not monophyletic, is the most primitive group of Geochelone, because its members lack most derived features. Indotestudo (G. elongata and G. travancorica) may be monophyletic; all members possess a ridge extending from the base of the inferior processes of the parietals anterolaterally over the dorsal surfaces of the pterygoids and palatines to the external pterygoid processes. Possession of a short trachea suggests that the subgenus Indotestudo should not be allocated to the genus Geochelone. Aldabrachelys is certainly monophyletic by virtue of a shared derived vertically elongated external narial opening. Other subgenera (Chelonoidis, Geochelone, Asterochelys) have no shared derived characters. Possible relationships between G. (Geochelone) pardalis and G. (Asterochelys) yniphora and G. (Geochelone) elegans, G. (Aldabrachelys) gigantea and G. (Asterochelys) radiata are suggested by cladistic analyses, but must await examination of additional anatomical systems, inclusion and analyses of other tortoise genera, and consideration of functional hypotheses. Until such analyses are completed, the subgenera of living Geochelone should be abandoned.

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