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Reptiles Guide

List of Testudines families

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Fossil range: Triassic - Recent
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Linnaeus, 1758

Testudines are an order of reptile commonly known as turtles, tortoises and terrapins. The testudines are some of the most ancient reptiles alive, with only the tuataras considered more primitive. There are approximately 300 extant species of testudines, split into two suborders: the Cryptodirans and the Pleurodirans. The distinction between these two suborders is based on the mode in which they cover their head and neck. The Pleurodirans, also called the side-necked turtles, have long necks, and fold them sideways to align them with the shell. The Cryptodirans pull their neck straight back to conceal their head within the shell.

Cryptodira - 11 families, 74 genera, over 200 species
Family Genera Common Names Example Species Example Photo
Boulenger, 1887
1 Australiasian Pig-nose Turtle Australasian Pig-Nose Turtle (Carettochelys insculpta)
Oppel, 1811
5 Sea turtles Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Gray, 1831
2 Snapping turtles Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii)
Gray, 1870
1 Mesoamerican River Turtle Mesoamerican River Turtle (Dermatemys mawii) -
Fitzinger, 184
1 Leatherback Sea Turtle Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
Rafinesque, 1815
10 Box or water turtles Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
Theobald, 1868
24 Asian river, leaf, roofed or Asian box turtles Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)
Agassiz, 1857
4 Mud or musk turtles Common Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)
Gray, 1869
1 Big-headed turtles Big-headed Turtle (Platysternon megacephalum) -
Batsch, 1788
11 Tortoises Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Geochelone gigantea)
Fitzinger, 1826
14 Softshell turtles Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera)
Pleurodira - 3 families, 16 genera, over 60 species
Family Genera Common Names Example Species Example Photo
Gray, 1831
11 Austro-American Sideneck Turtles Common Snakeneck Turtle (Chelodina longicollis)
Cope, 1868
2 Afro-American Sideneck Turtles African helmeted turtle (Pelomedusa subrufa) -
Gray, 1869
3 Madagascan big-headed and American sideneck river turtles Madagascan Big-headed Turtle (Erymnochelys madagascariensis)


  • John B. Iverson, A. Jon Kimerling, A. Ross Kiester. EMYSystems. Terra Cognita Laboratory, Geosciences Department of Oregon State University. Retrieved on 2006-06-15.
  • David T. Kirkpatrick (November/December 1995). Platysternon megacephalum pp. 40 - 47.. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine. Retrieved on 2006-07-27.
  • Cogger, H.G., R.G. Zweifel, and D. Kirschner (2004). Encyclopedia of Reptiles & Amphibians Second Edition. Fog City Press. ISBN 1-877019-69-0.

Home | Up | List of Testudines families | Chelodina | Fictional turtles | Kinosternidae | Sea turtles | Tortoises | Cheloniinae | African helmeted turtle

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