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Southwestern snake-necked turtle facts for kids

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Southwestern snake-necked turtle
Chelodina oblonga 1.jpeg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Genus:
Chelodina
Species:
oblonga

The southwestern snake-necked turtle, narrow-breasted snake-necked turtle or oblong turtle (Chelodina (Macrochelodina) colliei) is a species of turtle in the family Chelidae. It is endemic to the southwestern part of Western Australia.

The species has been successfully bred in captivity in Cologne Zoological Garden.

Etymology

The specific name, colliei, is in honor of Scottish physician and naturalist Alexander Collie.

Taxonomic history

This species has a very complicated taxonomic history, involving many uses of the available names and a number of mistakes in that usage. In his original concept of the two species involved Gray 1841 and 1856 clearly diagnosed two species, one from northern and one from southwestern Australia. However these were considered a single wide-ranging species by Boulenger 1889. This mistaken concept was followed for some time but was reviewed by Burbidge (1967). Unfortunately they had mixed the names up as was brought out first by Thomson (2000) and has been summarised also by Kuchling (2010).

A submission to the ICZN was put in by Thomson (2006) to maintain the prevailing usage of Chelodina rugosa over the name Chelodina oblonga for the northern snake-necked turtle with further comments by several authors. In 2013 the ICZN handed down its opinion on the issue where they deemed that the Principle of Priority should be followed. According to that ruling, the correct name for the northern snake-necked turtle was Chelodina oblonga and for the south-western snake-necked turtle is Chelodina colliei. Although that ruling required considerable effort over the ensuing 12 months to establish this nomenclature, subsequent research has reversed this finding with respect to Chelodina oblonga.

Kehlmaier et al. (2019) analyzed mitochondrial genomes of key type specimens and resolved several questions regarding taxonomy and nomenclature. They declared Chelodina oblonga a nomen dubium, affirmed Chelodina colliei as the southwestern snake-necked turtle, and called for the name Chelodina rugosa Ogilby, 1890 to be restored to the northern snake-necked turtle. This finding was supported by the findings of Shea et al. (2020) that the supposed holotype of Chelodina oblonga was in fact part of a type series and molecular work showed it was in fact from Perth. This led to a more detailed examination of its history and the determination that it was indeed the southwestern snake-necked turtle. Thus, the correct name scientific names are Chelodina oblonga for the southwestern snake-necked turtle and Chelodina rugosa for the northern snake-necked turtle.

Synonymy

Synonymy of Chelodina oblonga, and redescriptions of the type specimens, per Shea, Thomson and Georges (2020):

  • Chelodina oblonga Gray 1841:446 (misidentified type sensu Thomson 2000)
    • Chelodina (Macrochelodina) oblonga Shea, Thomson and Georges 2020
  • Chelodina colliei Gray 1856:200
    • Chelodina colliei Thomson 2006
    • Macrodiremys oblonga McCord & Joseph-Uoni, 2007
    • Chelodina (Macrodiremys) colliei Georges & Thomson 2010
    • Chelodina (Macrodiremys) colliei TTWG 2014
    • Chelodina colliei Kehlmaier et al. 2019:6
    • Chelodina (Macrochelodina) oblonga Shea et al. 2020
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