Genus Testudo

Linnaeus, 1758
Palearctic tortoises

These six small to medium-sized tortoises are found predominantly around the Mediterranean, but range through the Middle East to the Caspian Sea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northwestern China. The hingeless carapace is usually domed with descending sides; its posterior rim may or may not be flared and serrated. Anterior neural bones are alternately octagonal or four sided. There is usually only a single suprapygal bone, but if two are present, they are separated by a straight transverse suture. Normally 11 marginals lie on each side; the supracaudal scute may be single or divided. No submarginal scutes are present, but there is a narrow cervical scute. The adult plastron of both sexes has a weak hinge between the abdominal and femoral scutes in four of the five species, and a shallow anal notch is present. The paired gulars are not greatly thickened and projecting. The entoplastron is usually anterior to the humero-pectoral seam. The short axillary and inguinal buttresses are strong, but barely, at best, reach the costal bones. The skull is short with a hooked, usually tricuspid, upper jaw. Triturating surfaces of the maxillae usually have a weak ridge, but no ridge occurs on the premaxillae. The maxillae do not contribute to the roof of the palate, and the anterior orbito-nasal foramina are usually small (large in one species). The temporal arch is relatively weak. The prootic bone is typically concealed dorsally and anteriorly by the parietal, and the quadrate encloses the stapes in four of the five species. Limbs are clublike with unwebbed toes; four species have five foreclaws, one has four. See Loveridge and Williams (1957) for discussions of variations within the genus.

The genus has been subdivided into three subgenera (Loveridge and Williams, 1957; Auffenberg, 1974).
(1) Subgenus Testudo Linnaeus, 1758 includes the living species T. graeca, T. hermanni, T. marginata, and T. weissingeri, and several fossil tortoises. These have a weak hinge on the plastron, a single or divided supracaudal scute, maxillae with a weak ridge, orbito-nasal foramina small and partially concealed, the quadrate surrounding the stapes, and usually five foreclaws; a horny, enlarged scale may be present at the tip of the tail.
(2) Subgenus Pseudotestudo Loveridge and Williams, 1957 includes only T. kleinmanni, which has a hinged plastron, the supracaudal scute usually single, no ridge on the maxillae, the orbito-nasal foramina large and not concealed, the quadrate not completely surrounding the stapes, usually five foreclaws, and no horny tail scale.
(3) Subgenus Agrionemys Khozatsky and Mlynarski, 1966 includes only T. horsfieldii, which lacks a movable plastral hinge (but has the suture/sulcus relationships as in other Testudo), has a single supracaudal scute, a moderate ridge on the maxillae, small and concealed orbito-nasal foramina, the quadrate enclosing the stapes, four foreclaws, and a horny tail scale.

Species identification
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