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Astrochelys yniphora (VAILLANT, 1885)

IUCN Red List - Astrochelys yniphora - Critically Endangered, CR

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Higher TaxaTestudinidae, Testudinoidea, Testudines (turtles)
Common NamesE: Madagascan (Plowshare or Ploughshare) Tortoise
G: Madagassische Schnabelbrustschildkröte 
SynonymTestudo yniphora VAILLANT 1885: 440
Testudo hyniphora VAILLANT & GRANDIDIER 1910 (nomen subst. pro T. yniphora)
Astrochelys yniphora — BOUR 1980
Asterochelys yniphora — OBST 1985
Geochelone yniphora — ERNST & BARBOUR 1989
Geochelone (Asterochelys) yniphora — KUCHLING 1989
Geochelone yniphora — PRITCHARD 1992
Astrochelys yniphora — DAVID 1994
Geochelone (Astrochelys) yniphora — GLAW & VENCES 1994: 224
Astrochelys yniphora — VALVERDE 2005
Angonoka yniphora — LE et al. 2006
Astrochelys yniphora — FRITZ & BININDA-EMONDS 2007
Astrochelys yniphora — TTWG 2021 
DistributionNW Madagascar (small area about Baly Bay)

Type locality: (in error, see comment); designated by Bour 1978 as "cap d'Amparafaka (Baie de Baly), nord-ouest de Madagascar".  
TypesHolotype: lost, was MNHN-RA 1885.0499 (by monotypy); apparently lost during the 1960's (fide KING & BURKE 1989) 
CommentThis is one of the 25 most endangered turtle species according to a 2003 assessment by the IUCN.

The new generic name “Angonoka” is based on the Malagasy word ‘Angonoka’ which is the local name for the type species. The name change was necessary as the previous genus Geochelone was paraphyletic.

Recognition of a monotypic genus Angonoka for G. yniphora is unwarranted according to both our re-analysis of sequence data and morphological data according to FRITZ & BININDA-EMONDS (2007).

Type locality: “ grande Comore. . ." (in error) 
  • Bonin, F., Devaux, B. & Dupré, A. 2006. Turtles of the World. English translation by P.C.H. Pritchard. Johns Hopkins University Press, 416 pp.
  • Bour, R. 1979. Les tortues actuelles de Madagascar (République Malagache): liste systématique et description de deux sous-espèces nouvelles (Reptilia-Testudines). Bulletin de la Société Etude des Sciences Anjou, N.S. 10:141-154 [1978]
  • Bour, R. 1980. Essai sur la taxinomie des Testudinidae actuels (Reptilia, Chelonii). Bull. Mus. natl. Hist. nat. Paris (4) 2 (2): 541-546
  • Bour, R. 2007. The Plowshare tortoise: past, present, and uncertain future. The type of Testudo yniphora Vaillant, 1885, with a selected bibliography. Emys 14 (1) :33-46
  • Caccone, Adalgisa; George Amato; Oliver C. Gratry; John Behler and Jeffrey R. Powell 1999. A Molecular Phylogeny of Four Endangered Madagascar Tortoises Based on MtDNA Sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 12 (1): 1–9 - get paper here
  • Castellano, Christina M.; Anders G.J. Rhodin, Michael Ogle, Russell A. Mittermeier, <br />Herilala Randriamahazo, Rick Hudson, and Richard E. Lewis, Eds. 2014. Turtles on the Brink in Madagascar: Proceedings of Two Workshops on the Status, Conservation, and Biology of Malagasy Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. Chelonian Research Monographs, doi: 10.3854/crm.6 - get paper here
  • Curl, David A. 1988. Wildlife as Canon sees it: Madagascan Plowshare Tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora). National Geographic 173(4):unnumbered
  • Currylow, Andrea 2015. Ploughshare Tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) natural entrapment: rarest tortoise nearly becomes slightly rarer. Herpetology Notes 8: 485-487 - get paper here
  • Ernst,C.H. and Barbour,R.W. 1989. Turtles of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. - London
  • Finnegan, W. 2012. Letter from Madagascar - Slow and Steady. The New Yorker (January 2012): 56-63
  • Fritz, Uwe and Olaf R.P. Bininda-Emonds 2007. When genes meet nomenclature: Tortoise phylogeny and the shifting generic concepts of Testudo and Geochelone. Zoology 110 (4): 298-307 [erratum in vol. 111 (1): 84] - get paper here
  • Glaw ,F. & Vences, M. 1994. A Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag, Köln (ISBN 3-929449-01-3)
  • Juvik, J.O., A.J. Andrianarivo, and C. Blanc. 1982. The ecology and status of Geochelone yniphora; a critically endangered tortoise in northwestern Madagascar. Biological Conservation. Barking, England. 19:297-316. - get paper here
  • Kuchling, G. 1989. Ökologie, Lebensweise und Überlebenschancen der Landschildkröten Madagaskars. Salamandra 25 (3-4): 169-190 - get paper here
  • Mandimbihasina, Angelo R.; Shannon E. Engberg; Gary D. Shore; Emilienne Razafimahatratra; Hafany Tiandray; Richard E. Lewis; Rick A. Brenneman & Edward E. Louis Jr. 2009. Characterization of 20 microsatellite markers in the plowshare tortoise, Astrochelys yniphora. Conservation Genetics. 10:1085–1088 - get paper here
  • Obst, F.J. 1986. Turtles, tortoises and terrapins. St. Martins, New York. 231 pp.
  • Pedrono, Miguel and Tim Markwell 2001. Maximum size and mass of the Ploughshare Tortoise, Geochelone yniphora. Chelonian Conserv. Biol. 4 (1): 190 - get paper here
  • Rhodin, A.G.J., Walde, a.d., horne, B.d., van diJk, P.P., BlanCk, T., and hudson, r. (eds.) 2011. Turtles in Trouble: The World’s 25+ Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles—2011. Lunenburg, MA: IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, Turtle Conservation Fund, Turtle Survival Alliance, Turtle Conservancy, Chelonian Research Foundation, Conservation International, Wildlife Conservation Society, and San Diego Z
  • Schwarz, D., D. Newton & C. Ratzimbazafy 2017. Assessment of the international illicit wildlife trade in the critically endangered Malagasy tortoise species Astrochelys yniphora and Astrochelys radiata. Salamandra 53 (1): 163-166 - get paper here
  • Stanford, C.B. et al. 2020. Turtles and Tortoises Are in Trouble. Current Biology 30: R721–R735 - get paper here
  • TTWG; Rhodin, A.G.J., Iverson, J.B., Bour, R., Fritz, U., Georges, A., Shaffer, H.B., and van Dijk, P.P. 2021. Turtles of the World: Annotated Checklist and Atlas of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status (9th Ed.). In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Iverson, J.B., van Dijk, P.P., Stanford, C.B., Goode, E.V., Buhlmann, K.A., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Chelonian Research Monographs 8:1–472. doi:10.3854/crm.8.checklist.atlas.v9.2021. - get paper here
  • Vaillant, M.L. 1885. On a new species of land tortoise, brought by Mr. Humblot to the Museum of Natural History. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (5) 16: 314-315 [from Comptes Rendue...] - get paper here
  • Vaillant, M.L. 1885. Sur une Tortue terrestre d'espèce nouvelle, rapportée par M. Humbolt au Muséum d'Histoire naturelle. Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances de l'Academie des Sciences. Paris. 101(6): 440-441
  • Valverde, J. 2005. African Tortoises. Reptilia (GB) (43): 12-20 - get paper here
  • Valverde, J. 2005. Afrikanische Landschildkröten. Reptilia (Münster) 10 (56): 18-25 - get paper here
  • Ziegler, Thomas; Joel Kamphausen, Frank Glaw, Angelica Crot- tini,, Gerardo Garcia, Dennis Rödder, Anna Rauhaus, Lilli Sten- ger & Anna Wahle 2022. Threatened Malagasy amphibians and reptiles in zoos – a call for enhanced implementation of the IUCN’s One Plan Approach Zool. Garten N.F. 90: 21-69 - get paper here
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