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Nilssonia nigricans (ANDERSON, 1875)

IUCN Red List - Nilssonia nigricans - Extinct in the Wild, EW

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Higher TaxaTrionychidae (Trionychinae), Trionychoidea, Testudines (turtles)
Common NamesE: Black Soft-shelled Turtle, Bostami Turtle
G: Dunkle Weichschildkröte 
SynonymTrionyx nigricans ANDERSON 1875
Gymnopus duvaucelii DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1835: 487 (partim)
Tyrse gangetica — GRAY 1844: 47 (partim)
Trionyx hurum — BOULENGER 1889 (partim)
Aspideretes nigricans — MEYLAN 1987
Trionyx nigricans — ALDERTON 1988
Trionyx nigricans — AHSAN & SAEED 1989
Aspideretes nigricans — DAS 1996: 39
Aspideretes nigricans — PRASCHAG & GEMEL 2002
Aspideretes nigricans — BONIN et al 2006
Nilssonia nigricans — PRASCHAG et al. 2007
Nilssonia nigricans — FRITZ & HAVAŠ 2007
Aspideretes nigricans — LENZ 2012
Nilssonia nigricans — LIEBING et al. 2012
Nilssonia nigricans — TTWG 2014: 417
Nilssonia nigricans — TTWG 2021 
DistributionIndia (Assam), Bangladesh (Chittagong), SE Nepal

Type locality: "Tanks at Chittagong, Bengal" (=Bangladesh)  
TypesSyntypes: ZSI 664 and 1898 
CommentSynonymy: GEMEL & PRASCHAG (2003) pointed out that GRAY illustrated A. nigricans already in 1831 although he assigned it to A. hurum (then Trionyx hurum). See their paper also for a more complete synonymy.

Phylogenetics: According to the molecular data of Engstrom et al. (2004) Aspideretes should be renamed Nilssonia, as Nilssonia (GRAY 1872) has priority over Aspideretes (HAY 1903).

Literature: The paper by ANDERSON is not present in our AMNH collection.

Distribution: possibly in Bhutan (Lenz 2012 and references therein).

Conservation: Nilssonia nigricans has only survived in an artificial temple pond in Bangladesh, but seems to be extinct in nature.

Habitat: freshwater (rivers and tributaries, lakes) 
  • Ahsan, F. & Saeed, A. 1992. Some aspects of the breeding biology of the Black Softshell Turtle, Aspideretes nigricans. Hamadryad 17: 28-31 - get paper here
  • Ahsan, M.F.; Haque, M.N. & Saeed, A. 1994. Notes on feeding habits and some morphological features of the Bostami Turtle, Aspideretes nigricans (ANDERSON). J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 91: 458-461 - get paper here
  • Ahsan, M.F.; Haque, M.N. & Fugler, C.M. 1991. Observations on Aspideretes nigricans, a semi-domesticated endemic turtle from eastern Bangladesh. Amphibia-Reptilia 12: 131-136 - get paper here
  • Alderton, D. 1988. Turtles and tortoises of the world. Facts on File, New York.
  • Anderson, J. 1875. Description of some new Asiatic mammals and Chelonia. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (4) 16: 282-285. - get paper here
  • Basumatary, Rajeev and D.K. Sharma 2013. The turtle fauna of Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India with notes on natural history and conservation status. Herpetology Notes 6: 59-72
  • 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
  • Das, I. et al. 2008. Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles of India. WWF/WII poster
  • Das, Indraneil & Abhijit Das 2017. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Reptiles of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd., Oxford, 176 pp.
  • DAS, PRIYANKA & SREEDHARAN NAIR VISHNU. 2021. Feeding biscuits to critically endangered Black Soft-Shelled Turtles (Nilssonia nigricans) in the Tripureswari Temple Pond, Tripura, India. Reptiles & Amphibians 28(3): 430–431. - get paper here
  • Dutta, G., I.F. Hussain, P.J. Nath & M.F. Ahmed 2022. New distribution record of Black Softshell Turtle Nilssonia nigricans (Anderson, 1875) from Manas National Park, Assam, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 14(10): 22029–22031 - get paper here
  • ENGSTROM, TAG N.; H. BRADLEY SHAFFER AND WILLIAM P. MCCORD 2004. Multiple Data Sets, High Homoplasy, and the Phylogeny of Softshell Turtles (Testudines: Trionychidae). Systematic Biology 53 (5): 693–710 - get paper here
  • Ernst,C.H. and Barbour,R.W. 1989. Turtles of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. - London
  • Galán-Regalado, Pedro 2015. Los Anfibios y Reptiles Extinguidos. Herpetofauna Desaparecida desde el Año 1500. Universidade da Coruña, Coruña, Spain (internationally distributed through [email protected] or distribució[email protected]). 509 pp. Softcover. €30.00 (ca. US $31.50). ISBN 978-84-9749-629-2.
  • Gemel, R.; Praschag, P. 2003. On the nomenclature and vernacular names of recent Aspideretes species (Reptilia, Testudines, Trionychidae). Zoologische Abhandlungen - Staatliches Museum fur Tierkunde in Dresden 53(1):93-105.
  • Gray, J. E. 1831. Synopsis Reptilium or short descriptions of the species of reptiles. Part I: Cataphracta, tortoises, crocodiles, and enaliosaurians. Treuttel, Wurz & Co., London, 85 pp. - get paper here
  • Gray, J.E. 1844. Catalogue of Tortoises, Crocodilians, and Amphisbaenians in the Collection of the British Museum. British Museum (Natural History), London. viii + 80 p. - get paper here
  • Kundu, Shantanu; Vikas Kumar 2018. Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing for detection of freshwater turtles in Temple pond. Herpetology Notes 11: 369-371 - get paper here
  • Lenz, Norbert 2012. Von Schmetterlingen und Donnerdrachen - Natur und Kultur in Bhutan. Karlsruher Naturhefte 4, Naturkundemuseum Karlsruhe, 124 pp.
  • Liebing, Nicole; Peter Praschag , Rupali Gosh , Karthikeyan Vasudevan , s.M.a. Rashid, Ding-qi Rao , Heiko Stuckas & Uwe Fritz 2012. Molecular phylogeny of the softshell turtle genus Nilssonia revisited, with first records of N. formosa for China and wild-living N. nigricans for Bangladesh. Vertebrate Zoology 62 (2): 261-272 - get paper here
  • Meylan, P.A. 1987. The phylogenetic relationships of soft-shelled turtles (Family Trionychidae). Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 186 (1):1-101. - get paper here
  • Praschag, P. & Gemel, R. 2002. Identity of the black softshell turtle Aspideretes nigricans (ANDERSON 1875) with remarks on related species. Faun. Abh. Mus. Tierk. Dresden 23: 87-116
  • Praschag, P.; Hundsdörfer, A.K.; Reza, A.H.M.A. & Fritz, U. 2007. Genetic evidence for wild-living Aspideretes nigricans and a molecular phylogeny of South Asian softshell turtles (Reptilia: Trionychidae: Aspideretes, Nilssonia). Zoologica Scripta 36 (4): 301-310 - get paper here
  • Praschag, Peter; Tapil Prakash Rai & Hermann Schleich 2022. First record of the critically endangered Black softshell turtle, Nilssonia nigricans (ANDERSON, 1875) for Nepal. Arco-Nepal Newsletter 24 (October 2022):
  • Purkayastha J. 2013. An Amateur’s Guide to Reptiles of Assam. EBH Publishers (India) - get paper here
  • Purkayastha, J. 2018. Urban biodiversity: an insight into the terrestrial vertebrate diversity of Guwahati, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 10(10): 12299–12316; - get paper here
  • PURKAYASTHA, J., DAS, I., SENGUPTA, S. 2015. Freshwater Turtles & Tortoises of South Asia. Bhabani Books, 138 pp. - get paper here
  • Purkayastha, Jayaditya; Ahmed Mahmadul Hassan, Hasanul Islam, Jessica Das, Manoj Sarma, Mituseela Basumatary, Nilakshi Sarma, Nishant Chatterjee, Sachin Singha, Vishnupriya Nair, Arundhati Purkayastha, Jayashree Dutta, Madhurima Das 2013. Turtles of the Temple Pond of Kamakhya, Assam, India. Reptile Rap (15): 11-15 - get paper here
  • Singh, Shailendra, Shashwat Sirsi and Lonnie McCaskill. 2014. A year of steady progress for turtles and TSA India. Turtle Survival 2014: 40-44 - get paper here
  • TTWG; Rhodin, A.G.J., Iverson, J.B., Bour, R., Fritz, U., Georges, A., Shaffer, H.B., and van Dijk, P.P. 2021. Turtles of the World: Annotated Checklist and Atlas of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status (9th Ed.). In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Iverson, J.B., van Dijk, P.P., Stanford, C.B., Goode, E.V., Buhlmann, K.A., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Chelonian Research Monographs 8:1–472. doi:10.3854/crm.8.checklist.atlas.v9.2021. - get paper here
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