Historical Papers

Ramsay, E.P. 1886. On a new genus and species of fresh water tortoise from the Fly River, New Guinea. proceedings of the Linnaean Society of New South Wales. (2)1:158-162.

Comment: Here is the original description of the Fly River Turtle (Carettochelys insculpta). Holotype: AM R3677 at the Australian Museum, PO Box A285, 6-8 College Street, Sydney South, New South Wales, 2000, Australia. Carapace Length: 466.46 mm.



by E. P. Ramsay, F. R. S. E.

Carettochelys nov. gen.

Head large quadrangular, narrowed anteriorly, plates six(?), anchylosed, rugose; nostrils anterior, grooved; jaws naked, with sharp cutting edges, the lower curved, without notches; palate grooved. Head and limbs non-retractile. Arms elongate, narrow, compressed, ridged on their rounded anterior portion with narrow plates, nails free, on first two digits only, rest without nails and strongly webbed, the tips flattened, the third the longest. Hindlegs short, first two toes with strong sharp nails, nails only free, the rest strongly webbed to the tips. Tail with narrow rings above. Carapace shield-shaped, rounded and high in front, pointed and keeled behind. Plastron of 9 shields (1) rounded anteriorly and posteriorly, the 2nd and 3rd pairs anchylosed to the marginals. (See plate III).

Carettochelys insculptus

Adult female.-First vertebral plate oval, more than twice as long as wide, joins the nuchal plate in front and ends within the two adjacent costals, 3rd to 6th similar in form, the 4th the widest, 1½ in its length; all are separated from one another. The first wedged in between the anterior dorsal plate and the first pair of costals, narrow 4-sided, pointed in front, sides curved, almost oval behind, becoming obsolete or anchylosed between the 5th and 6th costal plate.

The nuchal plate apparently anchylosed with the marginal and costals on either side, the sutures scarcely traceable, the 1st pair of marginals short, five sided, about half as long again as wide, somewhat oblong, their outer margin rounded, anterior upper margin enters the outer lateral margin of the anterior plate forming two sides of an angle, the other margin joining the costal plate and the adjoining second marginal plate are comparitively straight.

First pair of costals four sided, staraight behind the first vertebral plate except where they surround it; greatly widened out anteriorly and laterally, joining the first two marginals, and part of the third where they are nearly twice as wide as on their dorsal boundary, posterior margin more than three times the length of the dorsal.

Second pair of costals long, about two-thirds wider at the marginal than at the vertebral boundary, fourth marginals oblong, its suture opposite the hinder margin of the third costal.

The 4th and 5th costal plates similar to the 2nd pair, but each increasing in width at the junction with the marginals and decreasing above the vertebral line; the 7th, 8th, and 9th, and the adjacent half of last marginal forming a sharp dorsal ridge and anchylosed together.

Carapace subcaudiform highly elevated and rounded in front; laterally flattened behind, and strongly keeled, the sides shelving with the marginal shields expanding, densly rugose. The three last costal plates connected along the vertebral line forming an elevated sharp ridge, which extends to the center of the pygomarginal, the adjacent marginal plates expanded over the hind legs. The anterior margin of fore legs covered with from 7 to 10 narrow band-like oblique unequal plates (see Plate IV, fig. 1.); nails of the first and second toes long, whitish in colour: other toes flattened, enveloped in skin, webbed, the 3rd the longest, webs extending beyond the tips. Hind legs (pl. IV., fig 2) without any shields, nails of 1st and 2nd toes free, 3rd toe longest, 3rd, 4th, 5th within the web, flattened without nails. Tail with from 14 to 16 narrow curved plates on the upper surface, skin wrinkled.

1. There are two small portions cut away from between the second and third plates and the marginals, so that it is impossible to say if these are extra plates or parts of the marginals.



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