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Chelus orinocensis VARGAS-RAMÍREZ, CABALLERO, MORALES-BETANCOURT, LASSO, AMAYA, MARTÎNEZ, SILVA-VIANA, VOGT, PIRES-FARIAS, HRBEK, CAMPBELL & FRITZ, 2020

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Higher TaxaChelidae, Chelinae, Pleurodira, Testudines (turtles)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Orinoco matamata
Portuguese: mata-mata do Orinoco
Spanish: matamata orinocence, matamata del Orinoco, caripatúa
Local name: “Atzapani” (used by Sikuani indigenous group in the Orinoco region) 
SynonymChelus orinocensis VARGAS-RAMÍREZ, CABALLERO, MORALES-BETANCOURT, LASSO, AMAYA, MARTÎNEZ, SILVA-VIANA, VOGT, PIRES-FARIAS, HRBEK, CAMPBELL & FRITZ 2020 
DistributionBrazil: Amazonas State: Ariaú, Barcelos, Igarapé Babi (Rio Negro); Santa Isabel do Rio Negro State: Igarapé Urupau (Rio Negro); Roraima State: Boa Vista (Rio Branco). Colombia: Vichada Department: Puerto Carreño Municipality: Bojonawi Nature Reserve, Laguna El Peñuelo (Orinoco River); Bita River (tributary of the Orinoco River); Caño Juriepe (tributary of the Meta River). Cumaribo Municipality: Tomo River (tributary of the Orinoco River). Meta Department: La Macarena Municipality: Losada River, Guayabero River (tributaries of the Guaviare River). Arauca Department: Cravo Norte Municipality: Cravo Norte River; Cinaruquito. Arauca Department: Casanare River. Guayana: Essequibo River. Venezuela: La Unión (Orinoco River).

Type locality: Colombia, Vichada, Pto. Carreño, Bita River (5.7610N/68.5858W WGS84).  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: IAvH-R-8755, Subadult female, fixed in formalin and preserved in 70% ethanol. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Colección de Reptiles, Villa de Leyva, Colombia: collectors: Mónica Morales-Betancourt and Carlos A. Lasso, 11 January 2017 (Fig. 10 in Vargas-Ramirez et al. 2020).
Paratypes: IAvH 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A large-sized chelid turtle reaching approximately 53 cm in straight-line carapace length, sharing with Chelus fimbriata the strongly three-keeled tuberculate carapace, the elongated thick neck, the wide triangular flattened head with long tubular proboscis, the small eyes, the extremely wide mouth, and the skin flaps on head and neck, which are unique traits of the genus Chelus. In addition to its genetic distinctiveness, C. orinocensis is morphologically easy to tell apart from C. fimbriata by (i) an oval instead of rectangular carapace, and (ii) a lighter coloration of shell and soft parts, in particular an unpigmented pale yellow plastron instead of a mainly dark plastron in C. fimbriata (Fig. 9 in Vargas-Ramirez et al. 2020). 
CommentSynonymy: many specimens previously called C. fimbriatus are now included in C. orinocensis.

Conservation: Chelus orinocensis is collected for the pet trade in Colombia and Venezuela.

Distribution: for a range map see Vargas-Ramirez et al. 2020. 
EtymologyThe species name orinocensis is a Latinized adjective and refers to the Orinoco drainage as core distribution of the new species. 
References
  • Vargas-Ramírez, Mario; Susana Caballero, Mónica A. Morales-Betancourt, Carlos A. Lasso, Laura Amaya, José Gregorio Martínez, Maria das Neves Silva Viana, Richard C. Vogt, Izeni Pires Farias, Tomas Hrbek, Patrick D. Campbell, Uwe Fritz, 2020. Genomic analyses reveal two species of the matamata (Testudines: Chelidae: Chelus spp.) and clarify their phylogeography. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 106823 - get paper here
 
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