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Alternatively, "Pelomedusidae" may refer to the Pelomedusoidea. See below for details.

"Pelomedusa subrufa", African helmeted turtle
Pelomedusa subrufa, African helmeted turtle
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Pleurodira
Family: Pelomedusidae
Cope, 1868

Pelomedusinae Cope, 1868

Pelomedusidae is a family of freshwater turtles endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, including Madagascar, São Tomé, and the Seychelles(Although this pop. may have been introduced by humans). They range in size from 12 to 45 cm (4.7 to 17.7 in) in carapace length, and are generally roundish in shape. They are unable to fully withdraw their heads into their shells, instead drawing them to the side and folding them beneath the upper edge of their shells, hence are called African side-necked turtles.

The family contains two living genera, Pelomedusa and Pelusios. They are distinguished from their closest relatives by a hinge in the front section of the plastron.[1]

Pelomedusids spends most of their time in the mud at the bottom of rivers or shallow lakes, where they eat invertebrates, such as insects, mollusks, and worms. Many species aestivate through the dry season, burying themselves in the mud.[1]

Systematics and taxonomy[edit]

Within Pleurodira, Pelomedusidae is more closely related to the South American and Malagasy Podocnemididae than to the South American and Australian Chelidae, with the clade containing both Pelomedusidae and Podocnemididae to the exclusion of Chelidae dubbed Pelomedusoides.[2]

Within Pelomedusidae are 2 genera and 27 extant species.[3]

Pelusios seychellensis was originally described as an endemic species to the Seychelles based on Museum specimens from the 19th century. However, this species was never found again and thus listed as Extinct by the IUCN. However, mitochondrial evidence proved the specimens to actually be from P. castaneus thus revoking the species status of P. seychellensis.[4]


  1. ^ a b Obst, Fritz Jürgen (1998): [Pelomedusinae]. In: Cogger, H.G., & Zweifel, R.G. (eds.): Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians: 112-113. San Diego: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-178560-2.
  2. ^ Ferreira, Gabriel S.; Bronzati, Mario; Langer, Max C.; Sterli, Juliana (March 2018). "Phylogeny, biogeography and diversification patterns of side-necked turtles (Testudines: Pleurodira)". Royal Society Open Science. 5 (3): 171773. doi:10.1098/rsos.171773. ISSN 2054-5703. PMC 5882704. PMID 29657780.
  3. ^ Uetz, P., Freed, P, Aguilar, R., Reyes, F. & Hošek, J. (eds.) (2023) The Reptile Database, , accessed May, 9th 2023
  4. ^ Stuckas, Heiko; Gemel, Richard; Fritz, Uwe (2013). "One Extinct Turtle Species Less: Pelusios seychellensis is Not Extinct, It Never Existed". PLOS ONE. 8 (4): e57116. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...857116S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057116. PMC 3616038. PMID 23573185.

Further reading[edit]

  • Edward Drinker Cope. 1868. An Examination of the REPTILIA and BATRACHIA obtained by the Orton Expedition to Equador [sic] and the Upper Amazon, with notes on other species. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 20: 96-140. (Pelomedusidæ, new family, p. 119).
  • Goin CJ, Goin OB, Zug GR. 1978. Introduction to Herpetology: Third Edition. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company. xi + 378 pp. ISBN 0-7167-0020-4. (Family Pelomedusidae, pp. 271–272).

External links[edit]