A New Species of Freshwater Turtle in the GenusElseya(Testudines: Chelidae) from Central Coastal Queensland, Australia

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Abstract

In this paper, we describe a new species of freshwater turtle from the Burnett River of coastal Queensland. It is a large, predominantly herbivorous species previously regarded to belong to the widespread speciesElseya dentata.It is most closely related toElseya irwini,E. lavarackorum, an undescribed taxon from the Johnstone River of northern Queensland, and possiblyE. branderhorstifrom New Guinea. It can be distinguished from the above species by the combination of a robust skull that acutely narrows across the pterygoids behind the processus pterygoideus externus, a deeply furrowed head shield and underlying bone, very prominent alveolar and lingual ridges on the triturating surfaces, a serrated margin to the carapace (prominent in juveniles and persisting into early adulthood), an anterior plastron that is broad, not oval in outline, and notable irregular white or cream markings on the lateral and ventral surfaces of the head and neck of adult females, often extending down the forelimbs. The new species inhabits the coastal Mary, Burnett, Fitzroy-Dawson, and associated smaller drainages of southeastern Queensland.

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