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Macrochelys temminckii (TROOST, 1835)

IUCN Red List - Macrochelys temminckii - Vulnerable, VU

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Higher TaxaChelydridae, Testudines (turtles) 
Common NamesAlligator Snapping Turtle, including the Apalachicola Alligator Snapping Turtle 
SynonymTestudo planitia GMELIN 1789 (nomen oblitum)
Chelonura temminckii TROOST in HARLAN 1835: 158
Macroclemys temminckii — GRAY 1856: 266
Macroclemmys temminckii — BOULENGER 1889
Macrochelys temminckii — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 42
Macroclemys temminckii — LOVICH 1993
Macroclemys temminckii — ROMAN et a.l 1999
Macrochelys temminckii — CROTHER 2000
Macrochelys temminckii — JENSEN et al. 2008: 459
Macrochelys temminckii — TTWG 2014
Macrochelys apalachicolae — MAYS & PIERSON-HILL 2015
Macrochelys apalachicolae — CROTHER et al. 2017
Macrochelys temminckii — TTWG 2017 
DistributionUSA (Indiana, Mississippi valley, Kansas, SE Iowa, Illinois, W Tennessee, W Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, E Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama)

Type locality: "a tributary stream of the Mississippi, which enters that river above Memphis, in West Tennessee," U.S.A.; restricted to the Wolf River, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA., by Bour 1987.

apalachicolae: USA (Florida, Georgia: Choctawhatchee and Ochlockonee rivers); Type locality: Apalachicola River, Gadsden County, Florida  
TypesHolotype: MNHN-AC A.4540 (fide BOUR 1987); RMNH 6166 (fide HOOGMOED, quoted in BURKE & KING 1989).
Holotype: UF 3998, partial skeleton from the Apalachicola River, Gadsden County, Florida, on 4 April 1953 by the Florida Museum of Natural History (see Figures 13, 14). (Central lineage; Figure 9); Paratypes. UF 52676, partial skeleton from Waddells Mill Creek, Jackson County, Florida, on 10 April 1978 by L. Richard Franz et al.; UF 152479 skull from Econfina Creek, Bay County, Florida (30.15274oN, 85.55748oW, elev. 2 m, 13.1 m depth), on 21 August 1982 by Joseph P. Ward and Joseph J. Ward [apalachicolae] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Carapacial caudal notch narrow and triangular or U-shaped, contained wholly on the pygal and not extending onto peripheral set 11, and pygal with two serrations and without medial suture; Peripheral 11 with 1 serration; pleural scute set 1 does not overlap onto the nuchal; distal rib end of costal 1 enters middle of peripheral 3; posterior projection of the squamosal globular and obtusely angled in lateral aspect, usually upwardly inflected; dermal scale on the frontals reduced in size; processus trochlearis oticum relatively straight with a single distal protuberance; posterior margin of squamosal-opisthotic contact relatively straight in dorsal aspect; mandible relatively narrow with slender triturating surfaces. Although generally the caudal notch is small and triangular, observable variation occurs within the species [THOMAS et al. 2014].

Diagnosis (apalachicolae): Macrochelys apalachicolae is distinguished by the following: carapacial caudal notch narrow and triangular or narrow and U-shaped (Figure 13), relatively shallow, and reduced; posterior projection of the squamosal globular and obtusely angled in lateral aspect (Figure 5,14); pygal with two serrations, with medial suture; peripheral 11 with one serration; distal rib end of costal 1 enters posterior third of peripheral 3; pleural scute set 1 with slight to no overlap onto the nuchal; processus trochlearis oticum relatively straight with a single distal protuberance; posterior margin of squamosal-opisthotic contact relatively straight in dorsal aspect. 
CommentTaxonomy: Echelle et al. (2010) suggested that the Suwannee River population might eventually be recognized as a distinct taxonomic unit, based on DNA evidence. Thomas et al. 2014 split up Macrochelys temminckii into 3 different species, Macrochelys suwanniensis, M. apalachicolae, and M. temminckii, also primarily based on mtDNA data. However, Folt & Guyer 2015 synonymized Macrochelys apalachicolae with M. temminckii again, due to the lack of consistent diagnostic characters. We follow TTWG 2017 in that apalachicolae is a synonym of temminckii.

Type species: Chelonura temminckii TROOST 1835 is the type species of the genus Macrochelys GRAY 1856: 200.

Habitat: freshwater (lakes, quiet rivers) 
EtymologyGenus: makros (Greek) = long, large; khelus (Greek) = tortoise

Named after Coenraad Jacob Temminck (March 31, 1778 - January 30, 1858), Dutch aristocrat and zoologist.

Macrochelys apalachicolae was named after the new Latin apalachicol– (referring to the Apalachicola River) and the Latin –ae (treating the name of the river as a Latin cognate in the First Declension, genitive case), combined to form the composite noun apalachicolae. 
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