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Chelonoidis niger (QUOY & GAIMARD, 1824)

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Higher TaxaTestudinidae, Testudinoidea, Testudines (turtles)
Common NamesE: Charles Island Giant Tortoise
G: Elefantenchildkröte; Galapagos-Riesenschildkröte 
SynonymTestudo nigra QUOY & GAIMARD 1824 (nomen dubium)
Testudo californiana QUOY & GAIMARD 1824 (nomen oblitum)
Testudo elephantopus HARLAN 1826
Testudo californica — GRAY 1831
Testudo Nigra — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1835: 115
Testudo californica — GRAY 1844
Testudo Nigra — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 221
Testudo planiceps GRAY 1854 (non T. planiceps SCHOEPFF 1792)
Testudo planiceps GRAY 1855: 135 (nomen dubium)
Testudo californica — GRAY 1855
Testudo californica — GRAY 1870
Testudo californica — GRAY 1872
Testudo elephantopus — GÜNTHER 1874: 312
Testudo elephantopus — JULIEN & WYMAN 1878
Testudo galapagoensis BAUR 1889:1044
Testudo nigra — BOULENGER 1889
Testudo clivosa GARMAN 1917 (nomen dubium)
Testudo typica GARMAN 1917 (nomen dubium)
Testudo elephantopus elephantopus — MERTENS & WERMUTH 1955
Testudo elephantopus galapagoensis — WERMUTH & MERTENS 1955
Geochelone elephantopus elephantopus — PRITCHARD 1967
Testudo elephantopus galapagoensis — WERMUTH & MERTENS 1977
Chelonoidis elephantopus elephantopus — OBST 1985
Geochelone elephantopus — ERNST & BARBOUR 1989
Geochelone nigra — KING & BURKE 1989
Chelonoidis nigra — DAVID 1994
Chelonoidis nigra nigra — DAVID 1994
Chelonoidis nigra galapagoensis — DAVID 1994
Geochelone elephantopus elephantopus — SWASH & STILL 2000
Geochelone elephantopus — SWASH & STILL 2000
Geochelone elephantopus — VALVERDE 2004
Chelonoidis nigra — MCCORD & JOSEPH-OUNI 2004
Chelonoidis nigra — GERLACH (pers. comm.)
Chelonoidis nigra — LE et al. 2006
Geochelone elephantopus — POULAKAKIS et al. 2008
Geochelone nigra — PARENT et al. 2008
Chelonoidis nigra — RHODIN et al. 2010
Chelonoidis elephantopus — GARRICK et al. 2012
Chelonoidis nigra — TTWG 2014: 394
Chelonoidis niger — OLSON & DAVID 2014
Chelonoidis niger — TTWG 2017: 130
Chelonoidis elephantopus — MILLER et al 2017 
DistributionEcuador (Galapagos: Charles [Floreana]

Type locality: "Sandwich-Inseln" (in error).  
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 9550; Lectotype: lost (fide Olson 2016)
Holotype: MCZ 11075 [clivosa]
Holotype: MCZ 11072 [typica]
Holotype: MCZ 11070 [galapagoensis]
Holotype: lost, fide Van Denburgh 1914, Olson 2015 [elephantopus] 
CommentTaxonomy: This is a member of the Chelonoidis nigra species complex (formerly Geochelone elephantopus). Rhodin et al. (2010) listed the various forms/subspecies separately but under the heading “C. nigra species complex”.

Synonymy: mostly after RHODIN et al. 2010 and Olson 2015, 2016 who argued that the names Testudo nigra Quoy and Gaimard and Testudo nigrita Duméril and Bibron should be considered as nomina dubia. Testudo nigra and Testudo californiana were based on the same specimen, now lost. Günther (1875), Baur (188), Rothschild (102), and Van Denburgh (114) were unanimous in declaring that the type specimen of Testudo nigra, which Günther and Rothschild examined together in the Paris Museum, was too juvenile to possess any morphological characters that would allow it to be assigned to a given island (Olson 2016). TTWG decided not to adopt Olson’s 2017 conclusions on the priority of elephantopus over niger, at least not for now (PP van Dijk, pers. comm., 26 Feb 2018).

Conservation: This species and Testudo galapagoensis are extinct now. See also extensive comment in KING & BURKE 18. IUCN: Extinct (16), as Chelonoidis nigra nigra; CITES: Appendix I.

Distribution: The nominate subspecies, Geochelone nigra nigra was completely arbitrarily ‘‘restricted to Charles Island (Santa Maria or Floreana)’’ (Pritchard 1996: 4). 
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