Common snapping turtle Chelydra serpentina, photographed by M. J. Baker.

Belongs within: Pancryptodira.
Contains: Pantrionychia, Emydidae, Pantestuguria, Kinosternidae, Dermochelyoidae, Cheloniidae.

The clade Centrocryptodira unites the crown cryptodiran tortoises with the extinct Meiolaniidae, the horned turtles. The Meiolaniidae were often large tortoises with horn- or knob-like protrusions on the rear of the skull and an armoured tail surrounded by bony rings. Remains are known from South America and Australasia, and they survived in the latter region until the Holocene, only becoming extinct within the last 2000 years or so. Among the major lineages of the crown group, the Chelydridae include the snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina and Macroclemys temminckii) of North and South America, and the big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum) of southeastern Asia. Members of this family have large heads with strong jaws, and limbs that cannot be fully retracted into the shell (Animal Diversity Web). The Kinosternoidea are freshwater turtles found in North and South America, characterised by the loss of the extragular and pectoral scales of the plastron and the absence of scales on the skull roof. Within the Kinosternoidea, the Dermatemydidae are represented by a singly living species, the hickatee Dermatemys mawii of Central America. The Chelonioidea include the living sea turtles, characterised by the modification of the legs into flippers with elongation of the third and fourth digits and flattening of the carpals and tarsals (Animal Diversity Web).

Characters (from Gaffney & Meylan 1988): Formed vertebral articulations; posterior section of canalis caroticus internus with relatively thick floor; plastral buttresses not reaching costal bones.

    |--Meiolaniidae [Meiolanoidea, Miolaniidae] GM88
    |    |--Niolamia argentina Ameghino 1899 B93
    |    |--Ninjemys oweni WW10
    |    |--Warkalania carinaminor WW10
    |    `--Meiolania Owen 1886 D07
    |         |--M. argentina Smith Woodward 1901 F71
    |         |--M. brevicollis WW10
    |         |--M. damelipi White, Worthy et al. 2010 WW10
    |         |--M. mackayi Anderson 1925 F71
    |         |--M. oweni Woodward 1888 B93
    |         `--M. platyceps Owen 1886 WW10
    `--Cryptodira (see below for synonymy) JPG04
         |  i. s.: Emarginachelys GM88
         |--Pantrionychia AS09
         `--+--Cryptoderinea [Pancryptoderinea] JPG04
            |    |--Pantestudinoidea JPG04
            |    |    |--Lindholmemys JPG04
            |    |    |--Mongolemys JPG04
            |    |    `--Testudinoidea [Emychelydia, Panemychelydia] GM88
            |    |         |--Emydidae GM88
            |    |         `--Pantestuguria AS09
            |    `--Panchelydridae JPG04
            |         |--Sinemydidae B93
            |         |    |--Sinemys lens Wiman 1930 B93
            |         |    `--Protochelydra zangerli Erickson 1973 GM88, B93
            |         `--Chelydridae [Chelydrinae, Chelydroidea] GM88
            |              |  i. s.: Devisia methodes B28
            |              |--Chelydra serpentina (Linnaeus 1758) GM88, JPG04 [=Testudo serpentina JPG04]
            |              |    |--C. s. serpentina N10
            |              |    |--C. s. acutirostris N10
            |              |    |--C. s. osceola N10
            |              |    `--C. s. rossignonii N10
            |              `--Platysternini GM88
            |                   |--Macroclemys GM88 [=Macrochelys (l. c.) N10, Macroclemmys (l. c.) N10]
            |                   |    `--M. temminckii (Troost 1835) [=Chelonura temminckii] JPG04
            |                   `--Platysternina [Panplatysternon] GM88
            |                        |--Chelydropsis GM88
            |                        `--Platysternon [Platysternidae] AS09
            |                             `--P. megacephalum Gray 1831 JPG04
            `--+--Pankinosternoidea JPG04
               |    |--Agomphus JPG04
               |    `--Kinosternoidea [Kinosternoidae] JPG04
               |         |--Pankinosternidae [Kinosternia] JPG04
               |         |    |--Hoplochelys GM88
               |         |    `--Kinosternidae GM88
               |         `--Dermatemydidae [Pandermatemys] GM88
               |              |--Baptemys Leidy 1873 GM88, C77
               |              |    |--*B. wyomingensis Leidy 1870 JPG04
               |              |    `--B. tricarinata Hay 1908 B93
               |              `--Dermatemys AS09
               |                   |--D. costilatus Cope 1875 C77
               |                   |--D. mawii Gray 1847 JPG04
               |                   `--D. wyomingensis C77
               `--Chelonioidea [Euchelonioidea, Panchelonioidea] JPG04
                    |  i. s.: Corsochelys GM88
                    |         Rhinochelys GM88
                    |--Pandermochelys JPG04
                    |    |  i. s.: Santanachelys gaffneyi JPG04
                    |    |--Allopleuron Baur 1888 GM88, F91
                    |    |--Dermochelyoidae GM88
                    |    `--Desmatochelyidae B93
                    |         |--Desmatochelys lowi Williston 1898 GM88, B93
                    |         `--Notochelone costata (Owen 1882) B93
                    `--Pancheloniidae JPG04
                         |  i. s.: Euclastes JPG04
                         |--Toxochelys [Toxochelyinae] GM88
                         |    `--T. latiremis Cope 1873 B93
                         `--+--Ctenochelys [Lophochelyinae] GM88
                            |    |--C. acris Zangerl 1953 B93
                            |    `--C. tenuitesta Zangerl 1953 B93
                            `--+--Osteopyginae [Osteopygidae] TH02
                               |    |--Osteopygis emarginatus Cope 1868 B93
                               |    |--Rhetechelys GM88
                               |    `--Erquelinnesia TH02
                               |         |--E. gosseleti (Dollo 1886) B93
                               |         `--E. planimenta TH02
                               `--+--Cheloniidae AS09
                                  `--Eochelyinae TH02
                                       |--Argillochelys Lydekker 1889 TH02
                                       |--Puppigerus Cope 1871 TH02
                                       |    `--P. camperi TH02
                                       `--Eochelone Dollo 1903 GM88, TH02
                                            `--E. brabantica TH02

Cryptodira [Chelomacryptodira, Chersemyda, Panchersemyda, Pantrionychoidea, Polycryptodira, Procoelocryptodira, Trionychoidea] JPG04

*Type species of generic name indicated


[AS09] Alfaro, M. E., F. Santini, C. Brock, H. Alamillo, A. Dornburg, D. L. Rabosky, G. Carnevale & L. J. Harmon. 2009. Nine exceptional radiations plus high turnover explain species diversity in jawed vertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106 (32): 13410–13414.

[B93] Benton, M. J. 1993. Reptilia. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 681–715. Chapman & Hall: London.

[B28] Betrem, J. G. 1928. Monographie der Indo-Australischen Scoliiden mit zoogeographischen Betrachtungen. H. Veenman & Zonen: Wageningen.

[C77] Cope, E. D. 1877. Report upon the extinct Vertebrata obtained in New Mexico by parties of the expedition of 1874. Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian 4 (2): i–iv, 1–370.

[D07] Dixon, D. 2007. The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures. Hermes House: London.

[F71] Fletcher, H. O. 1971. Catalogue of type specimens of fossils in the Australian Museum, Sydney. Australian Museum Memoir 13: 1–167.

[F91] Freess, W. B. 1991. Beiträge zur Kenntnis von Fauna und Flora des marinen Mitteloligozäns bei Leipzig. Altenburger Naturwissenschaftliche Forschungen 6: 3–74.

[GM88] Gaffney, E. S., & P. A. Meylan. 1988. A phylogeny of turtles. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Phylogeny and Classification of the Tetrapods vol. 1. Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds pp. 157–219. Clarendon Press: Oxford.

[JPG04] Joyce, W. G., J. F. Parham & J. A. Gauthier. 2004. Developing a protocol for the conversion of rank-based taxon names to phylogenetically defined clade names, as exemplified by turtles. Journal of Paleontology 78 (5): 989–1013.

[N10] Naish, D. 2010. Tetrapod Zoology: Book One. CFZ Press: Bideford (UK).

[TH02] Tong, H., & R. Hirayama. 2002. A new species of Tasbacka (Testudines: Cryptodira: Cheloniidae) from the Paleocene of the Ouled Abdoun phosphate basin, Morocco. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie Monatshefte 2002 (5): 277–294.

Last updated: 30 January 2022.

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