Tortugas pleurodiras africanas en las XXXVII Jornadas de la SEP

Uno de los trabajos sobre tortugas pleurodiras defendidos por miembros del Grupo de Biología Evolutiva en las XXXVII Jornadas de la Sociedad Española de Paleontología y V Congreso Ibérico de Paleontología trata sobre el linaje actualmente exclusivamente representado por la tortuga de Madagascar Erymnochelys. El análisis de taxones fósiles atribuibles a su linaje, realizado durante los últimos años, ha permitido conocer muchos detalles sobre su diversidad a lo largo del Cenozoico, así como sobre su historia evolutiva. Se recopila esta información en un trabajo presentado en dicho congreso científico, cuyo resumen es el siguiente:

Erymnochelyini is a lineage of Podocnemididae (Testudines, Pleurodira) known from the Late Cretaceous. It continues to be part of the current biodiversity. However, it is currently restricted to a relatively small geographic region, where it is represented by a single critically endangered species, Erymnochelys madagascariensis (i.e., the ‘Madagascan big-headed turtle’), which lives exclusively in the western region of Madagascar. Very limited information on the diversity and distribution of this lineage of Podocnemididae was available until a few years ago. In fact, Erymnochelyini was established in 2019, having been informally referred as “the Erymnochelys group of turtles” during several decades. In addition to the definition of this lineage, both the revision of fossils previously documented but generally scarcely analyzed, as well as the study of new specimens, have allowed us to significantly improve the knowledge about the lineage, for which we have established several new taxa over the last 5 years. Thus, the presence of this lineage, of African origin, have been recognized in several European Eocene sites, through various species (including two new and one previously poorly known) grouped in the recently proposed new genus Eocenochelus. The study of specimens from the African Oligocene record has allowed us its attribution to the new genus Shetwemys, based on individuals from Egypt. A new genus was also established for the only Early Miocene representative of this lineage so far known, Apeshemys, also defined by fossil remains from Egypt. The youngest extinct taxon known for the fossil record of Erymnochelyini, attributed to a new genera and species, has also recently been proposed by several Early Pliocene specimens from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The main anatomical, systematic, biostratigraphic and paleobiogeographic results derived from the recent studies on Erymnochelyini are presented here, so that an update on the knowledge about this lineage is provided.

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