Genus Psammobates

Fitzinger, 1835
South African star tortoises

These colorfully patterned small tortoises are restricted to southern Africa. The hingeless carapace is domed with ascending sides, and, in two of the three species, the vertebral areolae are conically raised. The anterior and posterior carapacial rims vary from smooth to slightly or strongly serrated. There are 12 or 13 marginals on each side, only a single supracaudal scute, and no submarginal scutes. A small cervical scute is present. The anterior neural bones are hexagonal. There are either one or two suprapygal bones; if two, they are separated by a straight transverse suture. The hingeless plastron contains an anal notch. The paired gulars are broader than long, and neither greatly thickened nor projected. The entoplastron lies anterior to the humero-pectoral seam. Axillary and inguinal buttresses are short but strong. The skull is short with a hooked upper jaw. Triturating surfaces of the jaws lack ridges, but the jaw rims are serrated. Maxillae form part of the lateral roof of the palate; the anterior palatine foramina are small or moderate. The temporal arch is relatively weak. The prootic bone is narrowly exposed dorsally and the quadrate bone encloses the stapes. Limbs are clublike; each forefoot has five claws. See Hewitt (1933, 1934) and Loveridge and Williams (1957) for discussions of variation within the genus.

Species identification
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