EMYSystem Text Only Species Page: Testudo graeca

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order..........TESTUDINES (turtles, tortoises and terrapins)
family...........Testudinidae (Tortoises)
subfamily.......Testudininae ()
genus...............Testudo (Palearctic Tortoises)
species..............Testudo graeca (Spur-thighed Tortoise)
Original Description
Linnaeus 1758 : 198
Not designated; the color figure in Plate 204 in Edwards 1751; see Bour 1986b according to Loveridge and Williams 1957 and Bour 1986b; reproduced in Bour 1986b.
Type Locality
"Africa" (Linnaeus, 1758:198 and 1766:352); the caption for the figure in Edwards (1751) reads "Loc. Santa Cruz in West Barbary"; "the old Spanish fort of Santa Cruz near Oran, Algeria", according to Loveridge and Williams (1957:265) ; designated by Mertens and Müller (1928:22) as "Santa Cruz in der Westberberei, Nordafrika"; "Santa Cruz, Oran, Algeria", according to Bour (1986b).
Original name
Testudo graeca
Common Name
Spur-thighed Tortoise
Northern Africa and southwestern Europe, Yugoslavia to Iran and Turkman SSR, USSR; apparently introduced to Islas Canarias (Spain), France, Sardinia, Italy, and Sicily
Subgenus Testudo. Reviewed by Loveridge and Williams (1957), Wermuth (1958), Groombridge (1982), Lambert (1983), Bour (1986b), Stubbs (in Swingland and Klemens, 1989), and Heimann (1990). Highfield and Martin (1989a and b) and Highfield (1990) believe that the currently recognized subpecies zarudnyi, ibera, and terrestris should be elevated to full species; that an Algerian population of graeca represents the full species Testudo whitei Bennett (in White, 1836:361; but in the new genus Furculachelys); and that two Tunisian populations of graeca deserve specific (and in one case generic) recognition (Testudo flavominimaralis and Furculachelys nabeulensis). Because these authors apparently have relied primarily on color and body size differences, because they failed to realize the range of variation of many of their "diagnostic" characters within the genus Testudo (e.g., see Pritchard, 1990), because their papers were published privately (apparently without peer review), their proposed taxonomy is not followed here. Given the proliferation of new names being applied to isolated populations of Testudo graeca, it would seem prudent for someone to undertake a range-wide study of variation in that taxon, rather than erect a plethora of names, many of which will likely eventually have to be synonymized.
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