April 8 2020: publication PLoS ONE
The earliest known crown-Testudo tortoise from the late Miocene (Vallesian, 9 Ma) of Greece
We here report on fossil remains of the earliest known crown-Testudo, an extant clade of Mediterranean testudinid tortoises from the late Miocene (Vallesian, MN 10) from the hominoid locality Ravin de la Pluie (RPl) in Greece. The material studied is a small, nearly complete carapace with a clearly distinct hypo-xiphiplastral hinge. This supports the sensu stricto generic assignment. This new terrestrial testudinid specimen is characterized by a possible tectiform, narrow, elongated shell with a pentagonal pygal and a long, posteriorly elevated, lenticular and rounded dorsal epiplastral lip. These unique features differ from those of other known Mediterranean hinged forms and allow the erection of the new species Testudo hellenica sp. nov. This taxon is phylogenetically close to two Greek species, the extant T. marginata and the fossil T. marmorum (Turolian, around 7.3 Ma). This record provides evidence for the first appearance of the genus Testudo sensu stricto at a minimum age of 9 Ma.
Garcia G, Pinton A, Valentin X, Kostopoulos DS, Merceron G, de Bonis L, et al. (2020) The earliest known crown-Testudo tortoise from the late Miocene (Vallesian, 9 Ma) of Greece. PLoS ONE 15(4): e0224783.