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Mesoclemmys jurutiensis CUNHA, SAMPAIO, CARNEIRO & VOGT, 2021

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Higher TaxaChelidae, Chelinae, Pleurodira, Testudines (turtles)
Common Names 
SynonymMesoclemmys jurutiensis CUNHA, SAMPAIO, CARNEIRO & VOGT 2021
Mesoclemmys gibba — BRITO et al. 2012 
DistributionBrazil (Western Amazon, Pará)

Type locality: Capiranga Community, Juruti-Velho Village, in Juruti municipality, State of Pará, Brazil (WGS84, 02036’16.20’’ S, 56024’40.80’’ W; 90 m elevvation).
ReproductionOviparous. There are still no studies or published works on the reproduction of Mesoclemmys jurutiensis. However, a chick was found about 1 year old, which leads us to believe that the chicks hatch from the eggs during the months of March and April (Cunha, pers. obs.) 
TypesHolotype: INPA-H41283 (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia), adult male (CL 179.0mm), collector: Fábio Andrew Gomes Cunha, 26 January 2019. Paratypes: INPA-H41284, INPA-H41285, INPA-H41286, INPA-H41381, INPA-H41379. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Mesoclemmys jurutiensis have head uniformly black, medium- sized, triangular, flattened dorso-ventrally, widening posteriorly. Eyes surrounded by 2 rows of triangular and hexagonal scales of similar shape but of distinct sizes with flat surface, large, and positioned anteriorly. Tympanum large and superficial. Neck granular dorsally, ventrally with 2 large and distinct barbels prominent on the chin. Rigid oval shell, dark reddish brown in color, with subtle markings on the posterior marginal scutes, slightly flattened with subtle keel in the fourth and fifth vertebral scutes. Nuchal scute distinct. Rigid plastron with vibrant burnt-yellow coloration at the edges and black in the central region; marginal seams black ventrally. Large femoral scutes with rounded outer ends. Anal scutes of the plastron with marked V-shaped invagination. Black front and rear feet with 3 conical large black scales on tibia, the final one most developed (Cunha et al. 2021).

Comparisons: Mesoclemmys jurutiensis is morphologically different from other extant species. Among the sympatric congeners, Mesoclemmys jurutiensis resembles Mesoclemmys gibba in body size, but Mesoclemmys gibba has a relatively higher carapace and differs significantly in head size; in addition, the two species have a very different color pattern.
With regard to related species, Mesoclemmys gibba hatchlings (artificially incubated) from a tributary of the Madeira River, Novo Aripuanã municipality, have a similar mottled black and green dorsal head pattern, described by Ferronato et al. (2010), whereas the hatchlings and juveniles of Mesoclemmys gibba have a moss-green head with irregular spots and brown streaks. In hatchling specimens of Mesoclemmys gibba, the tympanum is light orange with a black center and the orange coloration extends anteriorly to the apex of the jaws and posteriorly onto the ventral scales of the neck, which is mottled orange-black, as are the ventral surfaces of the limbs (Cunha et al. 2019). The hatchling Mesoclemmys jurutiensis specimen is different from any other Mesoclemmys hatchling we have seen.
Perhaps Mesoclemmys gibba hatchlings lose this coloration after a few months. Carapace length of the specimens of Cunha et al. (2019) was 41.0–49.0 mm after 2 wks of growth and they weighed 10.0–18.0 g at hatching, compared with data reported for the Madeira River specimens (54.0–63.0 mm CL and 20.0–30.0 g), with no caruncle or umbilical scar (Ferronato et al. 2010), suggesting that the latter turtles were not recent hatchlings. Ferronato et al. (2010) also described the hatchlings as having a black postorbital streak, but the hatchlings in their photos do not have this coloration; their heads are completely mottled in black and green, including the tympanum. Mesoclemmys jurutiensis has a completely black head different from the heads of the Mesoclemmys gibba hatchlings we have seen, both for those captured in the wild and for those artificially incubated.
Further regarding sympatric congeners, Mesoclemmys jurutiensis differs from M. raniceps mainly in body size, where adult individuals of Mesoclemmys raniceps can reach 315 mm. Another difference between the species is in coloration. As already mentioned, M. jurutiensis has a completely black head and neck, both juveniles and adults. In turn, Mesoclemmys raniceps has a head and neck in shades of dark gray with irregular white spots on the dorsal and ventral regions of the head. There is a pair of relatively small barbels for Mesoclemmys raniceps.
Regarding the color of the carapace, Mesoclemmys raniceps presents in dark tones, with regions dotted in an irregular way with white to pale yellow tones. In turn, Mesoclemmys jurutiensis has a reddish brown carapace. Another, striking difference between species is found in the size of the abdominal plastral scute, where for Mesoclemmys raniceps it is proportionally larger than in Mesoclemmys jurutiensis. The characteristics mentioned above make it easy to distinguish Mesoclemmys jurutiensis from Mesoclemmys raniceps and Mesoclemmys gibba.
For Mesoclemmys nasuta, the biggest difference is found in the color of individuals, both adults and hatchlings, because they have a bicolor coloration pattern with a bright, vibrant yellow patch on the ventral region of the head, passing through the mandible and extending to the chin, at the height of the eyes, in a uniform manner well-defined, from the beginning of the nostril to the neck. The dorsal part of the head is dark brown. Also, Mesoclemmys nasuta is considered a megacephalic species and Mesoclemmys jurutiensis is not.
Mesoclemmys jurutiensis is distinguished from other Brazilian Mesoclemmys, such as Mesoclemmys perplexa and Mesoclemmys tuberculata of the caatinga region in northeastern Brazil (South Atlantic Basin and São Francisco Basin) and Mesoclemmys vanderhaegei of the Pantanal and Cerrado in central Brazil (upper Paraguay River Basin), by having flat scales in the periocular region, smaller plastron shields proportionally, especially the humeral and pectoral shields, by the mean size of adult individuals, and by the structure and color of the head, especially in the tympanic region (Cunha et al. 2021).

Color in life: Uniformly dark shell with reddish dark brown tones. Central region of the plastron dark (shades of dark brown to black), with the outer edges of the left and right gular shields, intergular, and anal shields with burnt-yellow coloration. Ventral aspect of the burnt-yellow and darker marginal scutes with black seams. Totally black head, with lighter mandibular region and black nostrils. Predominantly black neck with grayish inner region, becoming lighter at the base of the attachment to the carapace. Two yellow barbels below the chin. Black front and rear feet, becoming lighter with shades of gray in the femoral region, becoming completely light (yellowish white) in the inguinal region (Cunha et al. 2021).
CommentDiet: Tadpoles were flushed from the stomachs of an adult female (3 mL) and a juvenile (1.9 mL) Mesoclemmys jurutiensis (Cunha et al. 2021). 
EtymologyNamed after a small municipality in the interior of the Brazilian Amazon, Juruti, in western Pará, because most of the specimens were found in this area. It is a Latinized word referencing the city. The name Juruti (Yuru-ty) is derived from the indigenous name for the tree trunk Tupi, which means strong neck, alluding to the aspect of the dove that sings in this region and was common in the epoch of the colonization of this city. It is one of the 144 cities in the state of Pará, in northern Brazil, with a rich cultural and natural history. (Cunha et al. 2021). 
  • Brito, E.S.; C. Strüssmann; R.A. Kawashita-Ribeiro; D.H. Morais; R.W. Ávila; V.A. Campos. 2012. New records and distribution extensions of three species of Mesoclemmys Gray, 1863 (Testudines: Chelidae) in Mato Grosso state, Brazil, with observations on terrestrial movements. Check List 8(2):294-297 - get paper here
  • COSTA, H.C., GUEDES, T.B., AND BÉRNILS, R.S. 2021. Lista de répteis do Brasil: padrões e tendências. Herpetologia Brasileira 10:1–171 - get paper here
  • Cunha, Fábio A.G.; Iracilda Sampaio, Jeferson Carneiro & Richard C. Vogt 2021. A New Species of Amazon Freshwater Toad-Headed Turtle in the Genus Mesoclemmys (Testudines: Pleurodira: Chelidae) from Brazil. Chelonian Conservation and Biology Dec 2021 Vol. 20, No. 2: 151-166 - get paper here
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