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Mesoclemmys heliostemma (MCCORD, JOSEPH-OUNI & LAMAR, 2001)

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Higher TaxaChelidae, Chelinae, Pleurodira, Testudines (turtles)
Common NamesE: Amazon Toadhead Turtle
Portuguese: Cágado, Perema-da-Cabeça-Amarela 
SynonymBatrachemys heliostemma MCCORD, JOSEPH-OUNI & LAMAR 2001
Batrachemys heliostemma — MCCORD & JOSEPH-OUNI 2002
Batrachemys heliostemma — SOUZA 2004
Mesoclemmys heliostemma — BOUR & ZAHER 2005
Batrachemys heliostemma — CISNEROS-HEREDIA 2006
Batrachemys heliostemma — REYNOLDS et al. 2007
Mesoclemmys heliostemma — VAN DIJK et al. 2011
Batrachemys heliostemma — RIVAS et al. 2012
Mesoclemmys heliostemma — MOLINA et al. 2012
Phrynops (Batrachemys) heliostemma — PHILIPPEN 2012 
DistributionVenezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil (Roraima, Amazonas, Pará, Mato Grosso, Rondônia, Acre)

Type locality: base of Pico da Neblina (situated on the Venezuela/Brazil border) on the left bank of Río Baria (=Río Mawarinuma) (4° 95’ N, 66° 10’ W), a tributary of the Rio Negro, Amazonas, Venezuela.  
TypesHolotype: USNM 541895 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. - A medium- to large-sized toadhead turtle of the genus Batrachemys that is distinguished from members of other toadhead genera by its large, wide, rounded head; its narrow parietal roof and parieto-squamosal arch; its reduced neural bone series; the combination of its relatively "shallow" carapace, having a median groove, lacking a keel, absence of lateral marginal narrowing, and presence of mild lateral marginal upturning; the presence of a large antero-medial distal tibial scale; and its distinct plastral pattern.
Batrachemys heliostemma is distinguished from its congeners by its distinct head coloration; diminished size of neck tubercles; lack of horizontal line in the iris; greater parietal roof width; its carapace widest at M7; 4th vertebral scute always wider than long; 11th marginals equal to or wider than 12th; mild upturning of lateral marginals; inter-gular scute narrower than gulars; greater width of the anterior plastral lobe; its plastral seam formula; and its plastral pattern.
Among its congeners Batrachemys heliostemma is sympatric with and most similar to B. raniceps. The two forms share a relatively similar head size and shape, a pointed nose, small barbels, a similar neural bone series, a similar plastral seam formula, lack of keels, a shallow carapace groove, a well-developed distal antero-medial tibial scale, and similar plastral patterns. However, B. heliostemma sp. nov. differs from B. raniceps by having a different head pattern and coloration, a broader parietal roof, a more substantial parieto-squamosal arch, an intergular narrower than its gulars (opposite in B. raniceps), a flatter shell, and 11th pair of marginals equal or wider than 12th (equal in B. raniceps). [from MCCORD et al. 2001]. 
CommentFor a color illustration and distribution map see MCCORD & JOSEPH-OUNI 2002.

Synonymy: has been considered as a synomym of M. raniceps.

Habitat: freshwater (rivers, swamps) 
EtymologyNamed after Greek helios, "sun," and Greek stemma (grammatical gender neutral), "wreath," in reference to the bright yellow-orange facial bands found in many juveniles that extend like a wreath from the supra-tympanum over and across the eyes, ending and joining at the tip of the nose. 
  • 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
  • Bour, R. & Zaher, H. 2005. A NEW SPECIES OF MESOCLEMMYS, FROM THE OPEN FORMATIONS OF NORTHEASTERN BRAZIL (CHELONII, CHELIDAE). Pap. Avul. Zool., Sao Paulo 45 (24): 295-311 - get paper here
  • Cisneros-Heredia, D.F. 2006. Turtles of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station with remarks on the diversity and distribution of the Testudines from Ecuador. Biota Neotrop. 6 (1): 1-16 - get paper here
  • Ettmar, Stephan 2019. Toad-headed turtles of the genus Mesoclemmys - Distribution, Natural History, Husbandry. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 204 pp.
  • Gonzalez R. C. et al. 2020. Lista dos Nomes Populares dos Répteis no Brasil – Primeira Versão. Herpetologia Brasileira. 9(2): 121 – 214
  • McCord, W. P., Joseph-Ouni, M.i & W. W. Lamar 2001. A taxonomic reevaluation of Phrynops (Testudines: Chelidae) with the description of two new genera and a new species of Batrachemys. Revista de Biologia Tropical 49 (2): 715-764 - get paper here
  • McCord, W.P. & Joseph-Ouni, M. 2002. Chelonian illustrations #1: South American Toadhead Turtles. Reptilia (GB) (21): 34-38 - get paper here
  • MOLINA, FLAVIO B.; FABIO A. MACHADO & HUSSAM ZAHER 2012. Taxonomic validity of Mesoclemmys heliostemma (McCord, Joseph-Ouni & Lamar, 2001) (Testudines, Chelidae) inferred from morphological analysis. Zootaxa 3575: 63–77 - get paper here
  • Moravec, Jirí 2017. First data on reproduction and hatchling morphology of Mesoclemmys heliostemma (McCoRd, Joseph-Ouni & LAMAR, 2001). Herpetozoa 29 (3/4): 205 - 208 - get paper here
  • Morcatty, Thaís Q. and Iury V. D. Cobra. 2015. Geographic Distribution: Mesoclemmys heliostemma (Amazon toad-headed turtle). Herpetological Review 46 (3): 381-382 - get paper here
  • Philippen, H. - D. 2012. Phrynops. Die Gattung der Krötenkopfschildkröten. Reptilia (Münster) 17 (98): 42-48 - get paper here
  • Reynolds, Robert P.; Steve W. Gotte, and Carl H. Ernst 2007. Catalog of Type Specimens of Recent Crocodilia and Testudines in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 626: 1-49 - get paper here
  • RIVAS, GILSON A.; CÉSAR R. MOLINA, GABRIEL N. UGUETO, TITO R. BARROS, CÉSAR L. BAR- RIO-AMORÓS & PHILIPPE J. R. KOK 2012. Reptiles of Venezuela: an updated and commented checklist. Zootaxa 3211: 1–64 - get paper here
  • Souza, Franco L. 2004. Uma revisão sobre padrões de atividade, reprodução e alimentação de cágados brasileiros (Testudines, Chelidae) [A review on activity patterns, reproduction, and feeding habits in Brazilian chelid turtles (Testudines, Chelidae)]. Phyllomedusa 3 (1): 15-28 - get paper here
  • Torres-Carvajal O, Pazmiño-Otamendi G, Salazar-Valenzuela D. 2019. Reptiles of Ecuador: a resource-rich portal, with a dynamic checklist and photographic guides. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13 (1): [General Section]: 209–229 (e178) - get paper here
  • TTWG; Dijk, Peter Paul van; John B. Iverson, H. Bradley Shaffer; Roger Bour & Anders G.J. Rhodin [turtle taxonomy working group] 2011. Turtles of the World, 2011 Update: Annotated Checklist of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status. Chelonian Research Monographs No. 5: 78 pp.; doi:10.3854/crm.5.000.checklist.v4.2011 - get paper here
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