Cyclanorbis elegans

(Gray, 1869a)
Nubian flapshell turtle

The large, rounded carapace (to 60 cm) is olive to brown in adults with numerous yellow or light-greenish spots on the lateral edges. Longitudinal rows of small tubercles and a low vertebral keel occur in juveniles, but the carapace becomes smoother with age. There are enlarged tubercles on the anterior rim above the neck. A prenuchal bone is usually absent, but a preneural and six to nine neurals are present. These neurals may form a continuous series or have the last two separated. There are eight pairs of costal bones; the 1st pair is separated by a preneural and a neural and the last pair is well-developed and meets at the midline. All carapacial bones are covered with small granulations. The plastron is yellow with dark spots. Usually a pair of callosities occurs over the hyo-hypoplastra only, but a small pair may also lie over the xiphiplastra. There are never callosities in the gular region. The anterior border of the fused hyo-hypoplastra is straight or concave, but never convex; the posterior border is deeply excavated; its anteromedial process has indistinct prongs, the short medial process barely projects, and the posteromedial process has only three prongs between which the two anterior prongs of the xiphiplastron insert (Loveridge and Williams, 1957). The xiphiplastra do not touch and are pointed posteriorly. The head appears small for the size of the animal. Its bony snout is much shorter than the diameter of the orbit, and the prefrontal touches the slender vomer. The mandible lacks a symphysial ridge; however, there is a strong knob on the inner surface. The symphysial width is less than the diameter of the orbit. In adults the head is brown with light-green or yellow vermiculations. The neck is also brownish, but lighter in color with numerous small yellow spots; the limbs are brown. Four transverse, crescent-shaped folds occur on the skin of each forefoot. The hatchling is brightly colored with a green carapace covered with large, irregularly shaped yellow spots, and a green to brown head with numerous yellow spots. No plastral callosities are present.
Males have longer, thicker tails than do females.

Cyclanorbis elegans ranges from the Sudan westward to Ghana.

Cyclanorbis elegans inhabits slow-moving rivers and marshes.

Natural History

IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Lower risk: near threatened.