(Duméril and Bibron, 1835)
Senegal flapshell turtle
The oval adult carapace (to 50 cm) is somewhat domed and brown to dark olive gray, with or without small, dark, mottled spots and a light border. Juveniles have several longitudinal rows of tubercles and a low vertebral keel on the carapace, but the adult carapace is much smoother. There are enlarged tubercles on the anterior carapacial rim. A prenuchal, a preneural, and as many as eight neurals are present, but not in a continuous series. The 1st of the eight pairs of costals is separated by two neurals, and the last pair may not touch at the midline. All carapacial bones are covered with small granulations. The plastron is white to cream with several gray or brown spots or blotches. There may be seven to nine well-developed plastral callosities in adults (sometimes absent over the xiphiplastra); small callosities regularly occur in the gular region. The anterior border of the fused hyo-hypoplastra is convex, but never straight or concave; the posterior border is deeply excavated; its anteromedial process has several almost juxtaposed prongs, the short medial process scarcely projects, and the posteromedial process has only three prongs between which are inserted the two anterior prongs of the xiphiplastron (Loveridge and Williams, 1957). Xiphiplastra do not meet and are broad and notched posteriorly. The head is moderate in size with a short, bony snout (shorter than the diameter of the orbit). There is no prefrontal-vomer contact. The mandible lacks a symphysial ridge and has no strong knob on the inner surface; the symphysial width is less than the diameter of the orbit. The adult head is olive to brown above, lighter laterally, and has the chin and throat mottled. Neck and limbs are olive to grayish brown. Five or six transverse, crescent-shaped folds occur on the skin of each forefoot.
Males have longer, thicker tails than do females.
Cyclanorbis senegalensis ranges in Africa from the Sudan westward through Cameroon to Gabon, Senegal, and Ghana.
This poorly known softshell lives in rivers, streams, and lakes (preferably in gallery forest) and, in the rainy season, in marshes and ponds in savannahs (Loveridge and Williams, 1957; Rödel and Grabow, 1995).
A female contained six brittle-shelled eggs on 12 April (Loveridge and Williams, 1957). The hatchling has a gray to brown carapace with scattered black vermiculations and yellowish, irregularly shaped spots, a gray to brown finely spotted head, and white throat and chin. No plastral callosities are present.
IUCN Red List Status (1996)
Lower risk: near threatened.