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Pelomedusa subrufa (BONNATERRE, 1789)

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Higher TaxaPelomedusidae, Pelomedusoidea, Pleurodira, Testudines (turtles)
Common NamesE: Helmeted Turtle, Marsh terrapin
G: Starrbrust-Pelomedusenschildkröte 
SynonymTestudo subrufa LACÉPÈDE 1788: 173
Testudo subrufa — BONNATERRE 1789: 28
Testudo badia DONNDORF 1798
Testudo rubicunda SUCKOW 1798
Pelomedusa subrufa — GRAY 1844
Pentonix americana CORNALIA 1849
Pelomedusa mozambica PETERS (nomen nudum) in GRAY 1855 (?)
Pelomedusa mossambicensis PETERS (nom. nud.) in LICHTENSTEIN 1856 (?)
Pelomedusa galeata damarensis HEWITT 1935: 338
Pelomedusa subrufa wettsteini MERTENS 1937
Testudo emys arabica N. — EHRENBERG in STRESEMANN 1954
Pelomedusa subrufa — AUERBACH 1987: 72
Pelomedusa subrufa — GLAW & VENCES 1994: 227
Pelomedusa subrufa subrufa — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 7
Pelomedusa subrufa — SINDACO & JEREMČENKO 2008
Pelomedusa subrufa — PETZOLD et al. 2014
Pelomedusa subrufa — TTWG 2014: 435
Pelomedusa subrufa — TTWG 2017: 205
Pelomedusa subrufa — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 51
Pelomedusa subrufa — TTWG 2021 
DistributionS Angola (Petzold et al. 2014), Botswana, SE Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Malawi (Vargas-Ramírez et al. 2010), Namibia (Wong et al. 2010; this study), South Africa (Limpopo; Petzold et al. 2014),Tanzania (Kilimanjaro, Petzold et al. 2014). Introduced to Madagascar (Vargas-Ramírez et al. 2010; Wong et al. 2010), Republic of South Sudan (RSS), Sudan (Jumhūriyyat)

Type locality: "Indes" (in error); designated by Mertens (1937:141), as Cape of Good Hope, Republic of South Africa; designated by Bour (1982) as "Tadanaro (Fort Dauphin), Republique Malagasy" (=Madagascar).  
Reproductionoviparous. Exhibits temperature‐dependent sex determination (TSD) fide Cornejo-Páramo et al. 2020 (and references therein). 
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 7970 (carapace only)
Holotype: PEM R14953 [damarensis]
Holotype: SMF 7958 [wettsteini] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Small to medium-sized helmeted terrapins with a known maximum straight carapacial length of 19.7 cm. Yet, the shell length of most adults is below 14 cm. Pectoral scutes in most specimens with broad contact at plastral midseam; however, terrapins with narrow contact or, exceptionally, with triangular pectorals without midseam contact occur. One large undivided temporal scale on each side of head. Two small barbels under chin. Carapace uniform light to dark brown. Plastron in larger individuals mostly light coloured, in younger specimens often with dark markings. Pelomedusa subrufa sensu stricto differs from all other Pelomedusa species by the presence of cytosine (C) instead of thymine (T) at position 117, by the presence of thymine (T) instead of adenine (A) at position 169, by the presence of thymine (T) instead of adenine (A) or cytosine (C) at position 191, by the presence of guanine (G) instead of adenine (A) at positions 226 and 296, by the presence of adenine (A) instead of cytosine (C) at position 280, and by the presence of cytosine (C) or thymine (T) instead of adenine (A) or guanine (G) at position 289 of the 360-bp-long reference alignment of the 12S rRNA gene (Supporting Information). In addition, P. subrufa sensu stricto differs from all other Pelomedusa species except P. galeata by the presence of cytosine (C) instead of adenine (A) or guanine (G) at position 148, by the presence of guanine (G) instead of adenine (A) at position 159, by the presence of cytosine (C) instead of thymine (T) at position 167, and by the presence of guanine (G) instead of adenine (A) or thymine (T) at position 343. Moreover, P. subrufa sensu stricto differs from all other Pelomedusa species except P. galeata and possibly P. gehafie, P. kobe and candidate species B (in which the respective character states are unknown) by the presence of thymine (T) instead of cytosine (C) at position 26 and by the presence of cytosine (C) instead of thymine (T) at position 38.
CommentPelomedusa subrufa has been split up into 10 species by PETZOLD et al. 2014.

Please note that SAVAGE (2003) suggested to reject Lacepède’s (1788) “Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupèdes Ovipares” as a non-binominal work (Case 3226; Bull. Zool. Nom. 60 (2)). This application has been successful. The ICZN (2005) has ruled that Lacepède’s (1788) work (and all subsequent editions of this work) are rejected as an unavailable, non-binominal work.

Distribution: Map: Petzold et al. 2014

Type species: Testudo subrufa LACÉPÈDE 1788: 173 is the type species of the genus Pelomedusa GRAY 1844.

Habitat: freshwater (Ponds, swamps) 
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