Indochinese box turtle

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Indochinese box turtle
Northern Vietnamese box turtle
Cuora galbinifrons galbinifrons
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Geoemydidae
Subfamily: Geoemydinae
Genus: Cuora
Species: C. galbinifrons
Binomial name
Cuora galbinifrons
Bourret, 1939
Cuora galbinifrons galbinifrons
  • Cuora galbinifrons Bourret, 1939
  • Cyclemus flavomarginata hainanensis Li, 1958
  • Cuora hainanensis Zhao, 1975
  • Cyclemys flavomarginata hainanensis Wermuth & Mertens, 1977
  • Cistoclemmys galbinifrons Bour, 1980
  • Cistoclemmys hainanensis Iverson, 1985
  • Cuora flavomarginata hainanensis Obst, 1985
  • Cistoclemmys flavomarginata hainanensis Groombridge, 1988
  • Cuora galbinifrons galbinifrons Iverson & McCord, 1992
  • Cuora galbinifrons hainanensis Iverson & McCord, 1992
  • Cistoclemmys galbinifrons galbinifrons Bour, 2002
  • Cistoclemmys galbinifrons hainanensis Bour, 2002
Cuora galbinifrons bourreti
  • Cuora galbinifrons bourreti Obst & Reimann, 1994
  • Cistoclemmys galbinifrons bourreti Bour, 2002
  • Cuora bourreti Stuart & Parham, 2004
  • Cistoclemmys bourreti Vetter, 2006
Cuora galbinifrons picturata
  • Cuora galbinifrons picturata Lehr, Fritz & Obst, 1998
  • Cistoclemmys galbinifrons picturata Bour, 2002
  • Cuora picturata Stuart & Parham, 2004
  • Cistoclemmys picturata Vetter, 2006

The Indochinese box turtle, Vietnamese box turtle, or flowerback box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons) is a species of Asian box turtles from China (Hainan and Guangxi), northern and central Vietnam, Laos, and possibly northeastern Cambodia.

The northern Vietnamese box turtle C. g. galbinifrons was described by Bourret in 1939, but it took nearly 40 years until the first specimens where imported to Europe and the United States. This subspecies occurs in extreme southern Guangxi Province, China, northern Vietnam, and probably northern Laos and on Hainan Island (China). The population from Hainan was once considered to represent a distinct species[2] or at least subspecies,[3] C. (galbinifrons) hainanensis]].[4] Li, 1958, was not aware of the description from Bourret (1939) of C. galbinifrons and thus believed to have a new subspecies of Cuora flavomarginata the only Cuora species known at this time with at least some similarities. According to some, specimens from Hainan do not always have fully black plastrons (always the case in mainland C. g. galbinifrons), but sometimes lighter parts. Furthermore, their carapaces show more red pigmentation and brown spots. Genetic and morphologic studies believe it to be a synonym of C.g. galbinifrons, however.

The central Vietnamese flowerback box turtle (Cuora (galbinifrons) bourreti) occurs in central Vietnam and adjacent Laos, and possibly in northeastern Cambodia. The most notable difference to the nominate race is the distinct plastral pattern, where only smaller black blotches (sometimes none at all) occur.

Described as a subspecies[5] of C. galbinifrons, genetic studies[6] have shown it to be quite distinct, possibly to the extent of a separate species, i.e., Cuora bourreti as is the case with Cuora picturata,[7] once also considered a subspecies of C. galbinifrons. However, ostelogic studies[8] have shown that C. g. bourreti probably better remains as a subspecies of C. galbinifrons. This is also substantiated by the finding of intergradation zones in north-central Vietnam, where hybrid populations of C. g. galbinifrons and C. g. bourreti are known to exist.[9] The status of C. picturata is uncertain, while this is the morphologically and phenotypically the most distinct variety, authors[10] treat it as subspecies of C. galbinifrons again. Herein it is treated as a separate but closely related species.

Specimens of at least the northern and central Vietnamese taxa hybridize—apparently in the wild—with keeled box turtle males to produce the turtles once considered a separate species or subspecies, Cuora serrata.



  1. ^ Fritz Uwe; Peter Havaš (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 216–217. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Zhao, 1975
  3. ^ Iverson & McCord, 1992
  4. ^ Li, 1958: org desc. Cyclemys flavomarginata hainanensis)
  5. ^ Obst & Reimann, 1994
  6. ^ Stuart & Parham 2004
  7. ^ Lehr et al. 1998
  8. ^ Fritz et al. 2006
  9. ^ Fritz et al. 2003
  10. ^ Fritz & Havas (2006)
  • Fritz, Uwe, Antje Petzold and Markus Auer. 2006. Osteology in the Cuora galbinifrons complex suggests conspecificity of C. bourreti and C. galbinifrons, with notes on shell osteology and phalangeal formulae within the Geoemydidae. Amphibia-Reptilia. 27 (2): 195-205.
  • Fritz, U., Ziegler, T., Herrmann, H.-W., Lehr, E., 2002. Intergradation between subspecies of Cuora galbinifrons Bourret, 1939 and Pyxidea mouhotii (Gray, 1862) in southern North Vietnam. Faun. Abh. Mus. Tierk. Dresden, 23: 59-74.
  • Obst, F.J., Reimann, M., 1994. Bemerkenswerte Variabilität bei Cuora galbinifrons Bourret, 1939, mit Beschreibung einer neuen geographischen Unterart: Cuora galbinifrons bourreti subsp. nov. Zool. Abh. Mus. Tierk. Dresden, 48: 125-138.
  • Stuart, B.L., Parham, J.F., 2004. Molecular phylogeny of the critically endangered Indochinese box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 31: 164-177.

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