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A new species of extinct Late Quaternary giant tortoise from Hispaniola

A new species of extinct Late Quaternary giant tortoise from Hispaniola
A new species of extinct Late Quaternary giant tortoise from Hispaniola
Insular giant tortoise diversity has been depleted by Late Quaternary extinctions, but the taxonomic status of many extinct populations remains poorly understood due to limited available fossil or subfossil material, hindering our ability to reconstruct Quaternary island biotas and environments. Giant tortoises are absent from current-day insular Caribbean ecosystems, but tortoise remains from Quaternary deposits indicate the former widespread occurrence of these animals across the northern Caribbean. We report new Quaternary giant tortoise material from several cave sites in Pedernales Province, southern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola, representing at least seven individuals, which we describe as Chelonoidis marcanoi sp. nov. Although giant tortoise material was first reported from the Quaternary record of Hispaniola almost 35 years ago, tortoises are absent from most Quaternary deposits on the island, which has been studied extensively over the past century. The surprising abundance of giant tortoise remains in both vertical and horizontal caves in Hispaniola’s semi-arid ecoregion may indicate that this species was adapted to open dry habitats and became restricted to a habitat refugium in southeastern Hispaniola following climatic-driven environmental change at the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary. Hispaniola’s dry forest ecosystem may therefore have been shaped by giant tortoises for much of its evolutionary history.
1175-5326
1-16
Turvey, Samuel T.
94878b58-7a92-4081-a8a3-f47181f240a9
Almonte, Juan
b753697c-2a1b-4ad6-ad2f-0c91e8c19108
Hansford, James
e6171635-c273-46b7-aa2e-fbbb2ffdcb79
Scofield, R. Paul
b2949a87-316e-466e-84b0-d1bcbb817bbe
Brocca, Jorge L.
d281ef55-5a15-4be6-88b5-77e59df76005
Chapman, Sandra D.
12095ae6-c9a1-414d-8e03-f975ce806b66
Turvey, Samuel T.
94878b58-7a92-4081-a8a3-f47181f240a9
Almonte, Juan
b753697c-2a1b-4ad6-ad2f-0c91e8c19108
Hansford, James
e6171635-c273-46b7-aa2e-fbbb2ffdcb79
Scofield, R. Paul
b2949a87-316e-466e-84b0-d1bcbb817bbe
Brocca, Jorge L.
d281ef55-5a15-4be6-88b5-77e59df76005
Chapman, Sandra D.
12095ae6-c9a1-414d-8e03-f975ce806b66

Turvey, Samuel T., Almonte, Juan, Hansford, James, Scofield, R. Paul, Brocca, Jorge L. and Chapman, Sandra D. (2017) A new species of extinct Late Quaternary giant tortoise from Hispaniola. Zootaxa, 4277 (1), 1-16. (doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4277.1).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Insular giant tortoise diversity has been depleted by Late Quaternary extinctions, but the taxonomic status of many extinct populations remains poorly understood due to limited available fossil or subfossil material, hindering our ability to reconstruct Quaternary island biotas and environments. Giant tortoises are absent from current-day insular Caribbean ecosystems, but tortoise remains from Quaternary deposits indicate the former widespread occurrence of these animals across the northern Caribbean. We report new Quaternary giant tortoise material from several cave sites in Pedernales Province, southern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola, representing at least seven individuals, which we describe as Chelonoidis marcanoi sp. nov. Although giant tortoise material was first reported from the Quaternary record of Hispaniola almost 35 years ago, tortoises are absent from most Quaternary deposits on the island, which has been studied extensively over the past century. The surprising abundance of giant tortoise remains in both vertical and horizontal caves in Hispaniola’s semi-arid ecoregion may indicate that this species was adapted to open dry habitats and became restricted to a habitat refugium in southeastern Hispaniola following climatic-driven environmental change at the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary. Hispaniola’s dry forest ecosystem may therefore have been shaped by giant tortoises for much of its evolutionary history.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 15 June 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 413332
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/413332
ISSN: 1175-5326
PURE UUID: b90dcc06-7093-4315-bf3e-8f0da2a75e42

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Date deposited: 22 Aug 2017 16:31
Last modified: 08 Jan 2022 16:14

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Contributors

Author: Samuel T. Turvey
Author: Juan Almonte
Author: James Hansford
Author: R. Paul Scofield
Author: Jorge L. Brocca
Author: Sandra D. Chapman

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