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Temporal range: Campanian-Maastrichtian
~84–66 Ma
B. variolosa skeleton, Royal Tyrrell Museum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Nanhsiungchelyidae
Genus: Basilemys
Hay 1902
  • B. gaffneyi Sullivan et al. 2012
  • B. morrinensis Mallon & Brinkman 2018
  • B. praeclara Hay 1911
  • B. sinuosa Riggs 1906
  • B. variolosa (Cope 1876) (type)

Basilemys is an extinct genus of land turtles belonging to the family Nanhsiungchelyidae. Fossils have been found in various Campanian to Maastrichtian formations of North America.[1]

Taxonomy and distribution[edit]

Five valid species of Basilemys are recognized: B. gaffneyi from the Ojo Alamo Formation of New Mexico and Kaiparowits Formation of Utah, B. morrinensis from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation of Canada, B. praeclara and B. sinuosa from Lancian-age deposits in the Western Interior, and B. variolosa from the Judith River Formation of Montana and Dinosaur Park Formation of Canada. All five species are distinguished from each in the features of the shell carapace, including the development of the epiplastral beak, the arrangement of scales about the shell, and the sinuosity of the midline plastral sulcus.[2] The nominal species Basilemeys nobilis Hay 1911, described from shell fragments in the Ojo Alamo Formation of New Mexico, is a nomen dubium.[3]


  1. ^ Brinkman, Donald; Nicholls, Elizabeth L. (1993). "New Specimen of Basilemys praeclara Hay and Its Bearing on the Relationships of the Nanhsiungchelyidae (Reptilia: Testudines)". Journal of Paleontology. 67 (6): 1027–1031. doi:10.1017/S002233600002535X. JSTOR 1306119.
  2. ^ Mallon, J. C., and D. B. Brinkman. 2018. Basilemys morrinensis, a new species of nanhsiungchelyid turtle from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of Alberta, Canada. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2018.1431922.
  3. ^ Sullivan, R. M., S. E. Jasinski, and S. G. Lucas. 2013. Re-assessment of late Campanian (Kirtlandian) turtles from the Upper Cretaceous Fruitland and Kirtland formations, San Juan Basin, New Mexico, USA; pp. 337–387 in D. B. Brinkman, P. A. Holroyd, and J. D. Gardner (eds.), Morphology and Evolution of Turtles. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.