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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous - Present
Ornate wood turtle
Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Geoemydidae
Theobald, 1868

Geoemydidae Theobald 1868:9[1]
Batagurina Gray 1869:185[2]
Bataguridae Gray 1870:17[3]

The Geoemydidae (formerly known as Bataguridae) are one of the largest and most diverse families[4] in the order Testudines (turtles), with about 70 species. The family includes the Eurasian pond and river turtles and Neotropical wood turtles.


Geoemydidae are turtles of various sizes (from about 10 to 80 cm (4 to 30 in) in length) with often a high degree of sexual dimorphism. They usually have webbed toes, and their pelvic girdles articulate with their plastrons flexibly. Their necks are drawn back vertically. Their carapaces have 24 marginal scutes. The plastron is composed of 12 scutes and has no mesoplastron; the pectoral and abdominal scutes contact the marginal scutes.

Some other features include a single articulation between the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae, the lack of a hyomandibular branch of the facial nerve, and an epipterygoid bone in the skull.


Geoemydidae live in tropics and subtropics of Asia, Europe and North Africa; the only genus in Central and South America is Rhinoclemmys. Their habitats include freshwater ecosystems, coastal marine areas, and tropical forests. Most are herbivorous, but some are omnivorous or carnivorous species. In mating, the males are usually much more active than females. A relatively small number of eggs per clutch is common, produced several times a year. Some species have a temperature-dependent sex determination system, while others possess different sex chromosomes; one known species (Siebenrockiella crassicolis) exhibits XX/XY sex determination, while another species (Pangshura smithii) exhibits ZZ/ZW sex determination.[5]

About 70% of the extant species have been reported to be in endangered or vulnerable condition.

Systematics and evolution[edit]

Traditional systematics placed the geoemydids in the family Emydidae as the subfamily Batagurinae. In the 1980s, the subfamily was elevated to the family status and renamed to Geoemydidae according to the ICZN rules.

Most fossil and molecular data support their close relationship to the family Testudinidae.

The intrafamilial taxonomy is not well established yet, due to the large number and diversity of species. The family is usually divided into two subfamilies and 19 genera.[4] Several species are known to give viable hybrids, which makes the systematics even more complicated.[6]

Subfamilies and genera[edit]

The following genera are classified under Geoemydidae.[4]


As of the early 2013, six species of the family Geoemydidae are on the CITES Appendix I, and 30 more are on the treaty's Appendix II. A joint China-US proposal for a March 2013 CITES participants' conference seeks to add 15 more Geoemydidae species to the convention's Appendix II.[7] [8]


  1. ^ Theobald, William, Jr. 1868. Catalogue of Reptiles in the Museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Journal of the Asiatic Society, Extra Number, 88 pp.
  2. ^ Gray, John Edward. 1869. Notes on the families and genera of tortoises (Testudinata), and on the characters afforded by the study of their skulls. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1869:165–225.
  3. ^ Gray, John Edward. 1870. Supplement to the Catalogue of Shield Reptiles in the Collection of the British Museum. Part I. Testudinata (Tortoises). London: British Museum, 120 pp.
  4. ^ a b c Turtle Taxonomy Working Group [van Dijk , P.P., Iverson, J.B., Shaffer, H.B., Bour, R., and Rhodin, A.G.J.]. 2012. Turtles of the World, 2012 update: annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution, and conservation status. Chelonian Research Monographs No. 5, pp. 000.243–000.328, doi:10.3854/crm.5.000.checklist.v5.2012, "Turtles of the World, 2012 update: annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution, and conservation status" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
  5. ^ Badenhorst, Daleen; Stanyon, Roscoe; Engstrom, Tag; Valenzuela, Nicole (2013-04-01). "A ZZ/ZW microchromosome system in the spiny softshell turtle, Apalone spinifera, reveals an intriguing sex chromosome conservation in Trionychidae". Chromosome Research. 21 (2): 137–147. doi:10.1007/s10577-013-9343-2. ISSN 1573-6849. PMID 23512312. S2CID 14434440.
  6. ^ Buskirk, James R.; Parham, James F. & Feldman, Chris R. (2005): On the hybridisation between two distantly related Asian turtles (Testudines: Sacalia × Mauremys). Salamandra 41: 21-26. PDF fulltext[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "convention On International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora: Sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the parties, Bangkok (Thailand), 3-14 March 2013. Consideration of Proposals for Amendment of Appendices I and II (CoP16 Prop. 32)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-02-22. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  8. ^ Dinny McMahon, China Backs Tortoise in Race to Protect Endangered Species, 2013-03-04

External links[edit]