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Elseya flaviventralis THOMSON & GEORGES, 2016

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Higher TaxaChelidae, Chelodininae, Pleurodira, Testudines (turtles)
Common NamesE: Yellow-bellied Snapping Turtle 
SynonymElseya flaviventralis THOMSON & GEORGES 2016
Elseya (Elseya) flaviventralis — TTWG 2017: 194 
DistributionAustralia (Northern Territory)

Type locality: Pine Creek Crossing, South Alligator River Drainage, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia, 13° 30' S 132° 28' E  
TypesHolotype: NTM 13512, adult female (Figure 2). PARATYPE and ALLOTYPE: NTM 13985, adult male from Pul Pul Billabong, South Alligator River Drainage, Northern Territory, Australia. 13° 34' S 132° 35' E (Figure 3).
Referred specimens. AM 38325-26, 40181, 40278, 43532, 128001-02, 128004, 129342; ANWC 0531; NTM 5097, 13512, 13985, 34496; QM 59285-89; UC 0304; UU 14784-92, 17904-961, 18740-759. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Elseya flaviventralis is a large chelid turtle belonging to the Elseya (Elseya) subgenus. It can be distinguished from Elseya dentata and all other Australian members of the genus Elseya by the distinctive cream or yellow plastron, free of the dark streaking, blotches or suffusing present in other forms of Elseya; bridge is extensive, with little or no abrupt angle between the bridge and the ventral surface of the plastron; a head shield that is broken up into a series of small plates rather than a single unit; flat uncornified temporal scales; and a narrower less robust skull. Osteologically, it can be distinguished from Elseya dentata by the contact of the vomer and the pterygoids. The carapace is typically a light to medium brown in color whereas the carapace of Elseya dentata is typically dark brown to almost black in color.
CommentDistribution: see map in THOMSON & GEORGES 2016 (Fig. 4)

Similar species: Elseya dentata and Elseya branderhorsti.

Controversy: Stephen Thorpe, on Taxacom 118 (3) (5 Jan 2016) commented that this species “was already described by Richard Wells in 2002. Worse, they have used a different name, thereby deliberately adding to nomenclatural instability! In a footnote (p. 19), they dismiss Wells' name” because, according to Thomson & Georges (2016) “Documents privately printed and circulated under the banner Australian Biodiversity Record are not recognised as scientific publications or as publications for the purposes of nomenclature. The name jukesi used in such a document is not regarded here as an available name.“ Thorpe is correct in that there is no such rule in the Code or any such decision by the ICZN (yet).

More importantly, Wells 2002 did not designate a type specimen: "The holotype is an adult specimen in the Australian Museum." Wells' 2007 redescription of jukesi did designate the holotype as a specimen in the Northern Territories Museum, NOT the Australian Museum.

Habitat: freshwater (rivers, swamps) 
EtymologyThe name flaviventralis comes from a combination of the Latin words flavus, meaning yellow, and ventralis, meaning ventral surface or belly. This is a reference to consistent cream or yellow coloring of the plastron in this species that distinguishes it from its nearest relative (both phylogenetically and geographically) Elseya dentata, which always has some degree of black coloration on the plastron. 
  • Bour, R. 2008. Global diversity of turtles (Chelonii; Reptilia) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595:593–598 - get paper here
  • Thomson, S. & Georges, A. 2016. A new species of freshwater turtle of the genus Elseya (Testudinata: Pleurodira: Chelidae) from the Northern Territory of Australia. Zootaxa 4061 (1): 018–028 - get paper here
  • TTWG; Anders G.J. Rhodin, John B. iverson, Roger Bour, Uwe Fritz, Arthur GeoRges, H. BRadley Shaffer, and Peter Paul van Dijk 2017. Turtles of the World: Annotated Checklist and Atlas of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status (8th Ed.). In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Iverson, J.B., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Pritchard, P.C.H., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Ed Chelonian Research Monographs 7:1–292. doi: 10.3854/crm.7.checklist.atlas.v8.2017 - get paper here
  • Wells, R. W. 2007. Some Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Considerations on the Class Reptilia in Australia. Some Comments on the Elseya dentata (Gray, 1863) complex with Redescriptions of the Johnstone River Snapping Turtle, Elseya stirlingi Wells and Wellington, 1985 and t Australian Biodiversity Record (2): 1-12 - get paper here
  • Wells, R.W. 2002. Taxonomic notes on some Australian freshwater turtles of the genera Chelodina and Elseya (Reptilia: Chelidae). Australian Biodiversity Record (2): 1–30. - get paper here
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