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Pelomedusa galeata (SCHOEPFF, 1792)

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Higher TaxaPelomedusidae, Pelomedusoidea, Pleurodira, Testudines (turtles)
Common Names 
SynonymTestudo galeata SCHOEPFF 1792
Pentonyx capensis DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1835: 390 (nom. subst. pro T. sufrufa)
Pelomedusa nigra GRAY 1863: 99
Pentonyx capensis — BRÜHL 1880
Pelomedusa galeata — BOULENGER 1889
Pelomedusa galeata — BOETTGER 1893: 113
Pelomedusa galeata — SCHMIDT 1919: 415
Pelomedusa galeata orangensis HEWITT 1935: 332
Pelomedusa galeata devilliersi HEWITT 1935: 337
Pelomedusa galeata nigra — HEWITT 1935: 335
Pelomedusa subrufa nigra — SINDACO & JEREMČENKO 2008
Pelomedusa galeata — PETZOLD et al. 2014
Pelomedusa galeata — TTWG 2017: 203 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Northern Cape, Western Cape)

Type locality: Restricted to environs of Cape Town, South Africa (Hewitt 1935)  
TypesLectotype: MZLU (was ZMLU or ZMUL) 6481 (Biological Museum of Lund University), designated by Fritz et al. 2014.
Lectotype: MNHN 9506, designated by Fritz et al. 2014 [capensis]
Lectotype: BMNH 1849.1.30.27, designated by Fritz et al. 2014 [nigra]
Holotype: PEM R14962 (Port Elizabeth Museum) [devilliersi]
Holotype: McGregor Museum, Kimberley, lost [orangensis] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Large-sized, often dark-coloured helmeted terrapins with an exceptional maximum straight carapacial length of 32.5 cm (Hewitt 1935, discussed in Branch et al. 1990). However, the normal shell length of adult terrapins is around 26 cm. Pectoral scutes always with broad or very broad contact at plastral midseam. In approximately 50% of all terrapins two small temporal scales present on each side of head, the others having one large undivided temporal scale. Two small barbels below chin. Soft parts dorsally darker than ventrally. Carapace and plastron of adults often mainly or entirely dark. However, in the western and northwestern parts of the range adults may be light-coloured with mainly or entirely yellow plastra. Pelomedusa galeata differs from all other Pelomedusa species except P. subrufa sensu stricto 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 of the 360-bp-long reference alignment of the 12S rRNA gene (Supporting Information). In addition, P. galeata differs from all other Pelomedusa species except P. subrufa sensu stricto (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. Pelomedusa galeata differs from P. subrufa sensu stricto by the presence of cytosine (C) instead of thymine (T) at positions 60 and 191, by the presence of thymine (T) instead of cytosine (C) at positions 117 and 298, by the presence of adenine (A) instead of thymine (T) at position 169, by the presence of guanine (G) instead of adenine (A) at positions 180 and 233, by the presence of adenine (A) instead of guanine (G) at positions 223, 226 and 296, by the presence of cytosine (C) instead of adenine (A) at position 280, and by the presence of guanine (G) instead of thymine (T) or cytosine (C) at position 289. [from PETZOLD et al. 2014].
CommentDistribution: Map: Petzold et al. 2014

Habitat: freshwater.

Phylogeography: P. galeata is splits genetically and geographically into 4 southern African clusters (Vamberger et al. 2018). 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “galeatus” meaning helmeted, or “galea” = helmet. 
  • Bauer A.M. and Russell A.P 2017. Carl Bernhard Brühl and the Herpetological Contributions of his Zootomie aller Thierklassen. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 13 (1-2): 4-34 - get paper here
  • Boettger,O. 1893. Übersicht der von Prof. C. Keller anlässlich der Ruspoli'schen Expedition nach den Somaliländern gesammelten Reptilien und Batrachier. Zool. Anz. 16 (416): 113-119 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1889. Catalogue of the chelonians, rhynchocephalians, and crocodiles in the British Museum (Natural History). British Museum, London, 311 pp.
  • Bour, R. 2008. Global diversity of turtles (Chelonii; Reptilia) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595:593–598 - get paper here
  • Brühl, C.B. 1874. Zootomie aller Thierklassen für Lernende, nach Autopsien, skizzirt. Bd. 1-4. Alfred Hölder, Wien: Bd. 1, 86 pp.; Bd. 2, 90 pp.; Bd. 3, 114 pp.; Bd. 4, 152 pp. (published in parts from 1874 to 1888, see Bauer & Russell 2017 for details) - get paper here
  • Conradie, Werner; Brian Reeves , Neil Brown, & Jan A. Venter 2016. Herpetofauna of the Oviston, Commando Drift and Tsolwana nature reserves in the arid interior of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Indago 32: 81-98 - get paper here
  • Duméril, A.M.C., and G. Bibron. 1835. Erpétologie Générale ou Histoire Naturelle Complète des Reptiles, Vol. 2. Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret, Paris, iv + 680 p. - get paper here
  • Fritz, U., T. Mazuch, A. Petzold & H. Prokop 2015. Coloration and pattern of hatchlings of six Pelomedusa species. Salamandra 51 (3): 277-282 - get paper here
  • Gray, J. E. 1863. Notice of a new species of Pelomedusa from Natal. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (3) 12: 99-100 - get paper here
  • Hewitt, J. 1935. Some new forms of batrachians and reptiles from South Africa. Rec. Albany Mus. 4: 283-357
  • Jones, Andrew W. and MIchelle Leighty Jones. 2015. Pelomedusa galeata (South African helmeted turtle) mutalistic behavior. Herpetological Review 46 (3): 427 - get paper here
  • PETZOLD, ALICE; MARIO VARGAS-RAMÍREZ, CHRISTIAN KEHLMAIER, MELITA VAMBERGER, WILLIAM R. BRANCH, LOUIS DU PREEZ, MARGARETHA D. HOFMEYR, LEON MEYER, ALFRED SCHLEICHER, PAVEL ŠIROKÝ & UWE FRITZ 2014. A revision of African helmeted terrapins (Testudines: Pelomedusidae: Pelomedusa), with descriptions of six new species. Zootaxa 3795 (5): 523–548 - get paper here
  • Price, C., Hanzen, C., & Downs, C. T. 2021. Demographics and morphometrics of marsh terrapins (Pelomedusa galeata) and serrated hinged terrapins (Pelusios sinuatus) populations in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: skewed size-class bias concerns. Zoomorphology, 1-9 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl Patterson 1919. Contributions to the Herpetology of the Belgian Congo based on the Collection of the American Congo Expedition, 1909-1915. Part I: turtles, crocodiles, lizards, and chamaeleons. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 39 (2): 385-624 - get paper here
  • Schoepff, J.D. 1792. Historia Testudinum Iconibus Illustrata. [part 1]. J.J. Palm, Erlangae [=Erlangen]. xii + 136 pp. [pp. 1-32] - get paper here
  • Sindaco, R. & Jeremcenko, V.K. 2008. The reptiles of the Western Palearctic. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy), 579 pp. - 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
  • Vamberger M, Anunciação PR, Hofmeyr MD, Fritz U. 2019. Mind the gap—Is the distribution range of Pelomedusa galeata really disjunct in western South Africa? Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13(2) [Special Section]: 57–60 (e185 - get paper here
  • Venter, Jan A.; Werner Conradie 2015. A checklist of the reptiles and amphibians found in protected areas along the South African Wild Coast, with notes on conservation implications. Koedoe 57 (1): 1-25. doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v57i1.1247 - get paper here
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