Krefft, G. 1876. Notes on Australian animals in New Guinea with description of a new freshwater tortoise belonging to the genus Euchelymys. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale de Genova. 1:390-394.
Notes on Australian animals in New Guinea with description of a new species of freshwater tortoise belonging to the genus Euchelymys (Gray), by GERARD KREFFT C.M.Z.S., Curator of the Australian Museum, Sydney New South Wales.
I am indebted to signor L.M.D’Albertis for the privilege of examining a rare species of tortoise from the Amama Rover S. E. New Guinea, which I think is new to science and I propose to name it provisionally:
The thorax is oblong, convex and high, slightly narrower behind than in front. The first vertebral shield is the broadest; the second is narrower and not quite as long as the first; the third is slightly smaller again and almost square; the forth is hexagonal with the lower margin narrower than the others. –– The shell is much elevated above the centre and as the sternum is also bulged out in a corresponding manner, the form becomes subglobular. A slightly interrupted groove runs through the middle of the second, third and forth vertebral plates. All these centre plates are slightly rugose and the markings run in a longitudinal direction.
The nuchal plate is distinct but narrow, the caudals are of equal size, rather broad and not forked and they measure nearly two inches in width by half an inch high. –– The upper shell and sternum meet on the side without forming a margin or turned up rim. The fore coastal plates are of regular size; the second the largest; the forth the smallest.
The sternum is much rounded about the centre shewing off flat towards the gular and anal plates. The former are three in number. The preanals and anals have raised outer edges; a wide semicircular notch forms the lower margin of the anal plates.
The head is rather large covered with a rugose skin; skull slightly depressed, zygomatic arch wanting and with a large tympanic opening.
The neck is rather thick, slightly warty above and rugose below, with two very small beards.
The fore legs have large transverse scales in front; the hind ones are granular. –– The claws are long and sharp and the space between the toes is fully webbed.
The specimen is a female from which M.r D’Albertis took a number of rather large eggs. The male is no doubt furnished with a much larger tail than the female and I mention this, more particularly, because the late D.r Gray was of opinion that several tortoises (which I had forwarded to him from the Burnett River and which I had examined and found to be males) were distinct species. The colour of these reptiles is as uniform as that of our Landshells –– olive green above and straw yellow below. The yellow is revealed in the present species by scarlet (in young specimen) above the centre of the sternum and a deep orange streak runs from the eye to the tympanum. Australians example of the long necked kind when just hatched are always bright brick-red below, but the spots soon fade.
Total length of upper shell 9 ˝ inches; across the centre at narrowest part 8 inches. Total length of sternum 7 ˝ inches; across the sternum narrowest part 7 inches.
All round the body highest part 15 inches. The measurements are taken curves included.
The discovery of so true an Australian form in New Guinea bears out D.r Sclater’s supposition that the great island is part of Australia proper and whatever novelties there may yet be discovered in Papua so much is certain all will bear the Australian stamp –– a sort of • natural history trade mark • which true observers understand, but which as a rule is overlooked by species mongers.
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