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Elseya irwini CANN, 1997

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Higher TaxaChelidae, Chelodininae, Pleurodira, Testudines (turtles)
Common NamesE: Irwin's Turtle 
SynonymElseya stirlingi WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985: 9 (nomen dubium)
Elseya irwini CANN 1997
Elseya irwini — COGGER 2000: 739
Elseya stirlingi — WELLS 2002
Elseya dentata irwini — ARTNER 2008
Elseya irwini — THOMSON et al. 2006
Elseya stirlingi — WILSON & SWAN 2010
Elseya irwini — WILSON & SWAN 2010
Elseya irwini — GEORGES & THOMSON 2010
Elseya (Pelocomastes) irwini — THOMSON et al. 2015
Elseya (Pelocomastes) irwini — TTWG 2017: 195 
DistributionAustralia (CE Queensland)

irwini: Queensland; Type locality: Burdekin River, Queensland, 19°42'S, 147°18'E, approximately 18 km upstream from Ayr (Google Maps ~ -19.771900, 147.237678)

stirlingi: Type locality: South Johnstone River, Qld (17° 38’ S, 145° 05’ E).  
TypesHolotype: QM J59431
Holotype: AM R68848 (reregistered as: R93048); Wells 2007 mentions QM 48059 as another type [stirlingi] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Elseya irwini is a large species of turtle known so far only from the Burdekin River. It is most similar to Eiseya dentata in overall size and morphology, but is readily distinguished from all populations of that species, and other species of Eiseya, by the female's pale, primitively white head and yellowish horny sheath on the crown. The population of Eiseya dentata from the Victoria River, Northern Territory, also has some white marking on the face of mature individuals, but this is confined to the region of the face and neck and does not extend dorsally onto the horny sheath at the top of the head.

Diagnosis (stirlingi): This is a large, heavy-bodied species of freshwater turtle that bears some similarities to its close relative Elseya dentata. As in the case of E. dentata, the head of Elseya stirlingi sp. nov. is very broad and deep, with a very wide mandibular symphysis and a distinct median alveolar ridge on the upper jaw. The horny plate on top of the head does not extend laterally and there are two small white barbels under the chin. The neck is large and muscular with scattered enlarged conical tubercles over a covering of smaller flat tubercles. In general shape, the lateral edge of the mature female carapace of Elseya stirlingi is distinctly straight-edged, giving this species a rather oblong and comparatively broader shape than Elseya dentata (sensu stricto). This is most unlike the condition in E. dentata females, where the carapace is somewhat oval-shaped with the posterior margin of the carapace acutely tapered and more depressed. Generally, Elseya stirlingi is a larger and more heavy-bodied turtle than Elseya dentata. Additionally, in Elseya stirlingi, the dorsal colouration is very dark in mature specimens with younger specimens marbled with darker brown or black. The ventral colouration (plastron) is unpatterned and varies from bone-white in juveniles to bluish in immatures through to the mature condition of bluish-black, to very dark greyish or even totally black in old individuals. In marked contrast, Elseya dentata has a distinctive piebald pattern ventrally. In Elseya stirlingi the iris colour darkens with age, but always has a very light inner ring, and is much darker brownish than in Elseya dentata and always lacks the distinctive flecking pattern of E. dentata as well. Elseya stirlingi attains a maximum carapace length of around 380 mm, but males are much smaller than females as is the case with the entire E. dentata complex. I herein designate the following Type material for Elseya stirlingi: Holotype: Queensland Museum: QM 48059, South Johnstone River, Qld (17° 38’S, 145° 05’E). Paratypes: Australian Museum: AM93048 (previously AM68848) Cairns district, Qld (16° 55íS, 145° 46’E); AM 125468 Malanda, North Johnstone River, Qld (17° 21’S, 145 35’E); Queensland Museum: QM 23053-4, 23056-7, 23060, 23175-6, 23299-300, 23322, 28954, Malanda, North Johnstone River, Qld (17° 21’S, 145° 35’E); QM 48059, 48064-5 South Johnstone River, Qld (17° 38’S, 145° 05’E); QM 48060 nr. Cairns, Qld (16° 55’S, 145° 46’E); QM48064-5 South Johnstone River, Qld (17 38’S, 145 05’E); QM 48062, 48068 Hartley Creek, Qld (15° 46’S, 145° 19’E) [from WELLS 2007]. 
CommentFirst described in the magazine Monitor, not subject to peer review; later reproduced in a more widely available book (Cann, 1998)

Synonymy: Elseya stirlingi is an unavailable name for E. irwini (S. Thomson, pers. comm., 12 Sep 2014). Elseya stirlingi Wells, 2002 is either a junior subjective homonym or an unavailable name (S. Thomson, pers. comm., 21 Dec 2014, 25 Sep 2015).

Habitat: freshwater (rivers, swamps) 
EtymologyNamed for Bob Irwin of Beerwah, Queensland, who is one of the proprietors of Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, at Beerwah (together with Steve Irwin). 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • 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. 2008. Global diversity of turtles (Chelonii; Reptilia) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595:593–598 - get paper here
  • Cann, John 1997. Irwin's turtle, Elseya irwini sp. nov. Monitor: Journal of the Victorian Herpetological Society. 9 (1): 36-40
  • Cann, John 1998. Australian Freshwater Turtles. Beaumont Publishing, Singapore: 292 pp.
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • Freeman, Alastair B.; Carla Eisemberg, and Henry Stoetzel 2018. Habitat Use and Movements in an Upland Population of Johnstone River Snapping Turtles, Elseya irwini. Herp. Cons. Biol. 13 (2): 464–472 - get paper here
  • Georges, A. & Thomson, S. 2010. Diversity of Australasian freshwater turtles, with an annotated synonymy and keys to species. Zootaxa 2496: 1–37 - get paper here
  • Thomson, S.; Amepou, Y., Anamiato, J. & Georges, A. 2015. A new species and subgenus of Elseya (Testudines: Pleurodira: Chelidae) from New Guinea. Zootaxa 4006 (1): 059–082 - get paper here
  • Thomson, Scott, Arthur Georges and Colin J. Limpus 2006. A new species of freshwater turtle in the genus Elseya (Testudines: Chelidae) from Central Coastal Queensland, Australia. Chelonian Conserv. Biol. 5 (1): 74-86. - 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
  • Turner, Grant S. 2011. Hypomelanism in Irwin's Turtle, Elseya irwini, from the Johnstone River, North Queensland, Australia. Chelonian Conservation and Biology Dec 2011, Vol. 10, No. 2: 275-281. - get paper here
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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