New Guinea giant softshell turtle

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New Guinea giant softshell turtle
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Trionychidae
Genus: Pelochelys
P. bibroni
Binomial name
Pelochelys bibroni
(Owen, 1853)
Synonyms [1]
  • Trionyx (Gymnopus) bibroni
    Owen, 1853
  • Pelochelys bibronii [sic]
    Gray, 1864
    (ex errore)
  • Pelochelys bibroni
    M.A. Smith, 1930
  • Triinyx bibroni
    — M.A. Smith, 1930

The New Guinea giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys bibroni) is a species of softshell turtle in the family Trionychidae. The species is endemic to New Guinea. [2] P. bibroni is referred to by the Suki people as kiya eise, a reference to its flexible shell. In the Arammba language, it is called sokrere, meaning "earthquake". [3] It is sometimes hunted by local villages for its meat and/or eggs, leading to some cases of chelonitoxism. [4]



P. bibroni prefers lowland rivers and estuaries, but adjusts well to the saline environments of deltas and large estuaries. [5]


The diet of P. bibroni is primarily carnivorous, consuming mostly fish, crabs, mollusks, and occasionally some vegetation. Its hunting strategy is not overly aggressive, but primarily being an ambush predator, it spends most of its time at the bottom of its chosen river bed, waiting for prey to wander by. [5]


Nesting of P. bibroni usually occurs in September, often on the same beaches as the pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta). The 22–45 eggs in a clutch are often found in the nests of crocodiles. This is possibly a strategy to avoid nest predation. [5]


The specific name, bibroni, is in honor of French herpetologist Gabriel Bibron. [6]

Geographic range

P. bibroni is endemic to New Guinea, where it is only found on the southern part of the island, south of the Central Range. [2] In the past, there was some confusion about its range limits, but it is now clear that the species found throughout much of South and Southeast Asia is Cantor's giant softshell turtle (P. cantorii ) and that the species in northern New Guinea is the northern New Guinea giant softshell turtle (P. signifera). [2] [7] The ranges of the species do not overlap anywhere. [2]


P. bibroni is the among the largest species of freshwater turtle, surpassed or matched only by other species of Pelochelys , as well as certain Chitra , Rafetus , and Macrochelys species. P. bibroni can reach up to 1 m (3.3 ft) in straight carapace length, and 120 kg (260 lb) in weight. [5]

It has a soft, subdermal carapace with a slightly flexible posterior region. [8] Its neck is completely retractable, as are all four of its limbs. Its head is broad, with its nostrils at the end of a proboscis. Its digits are webbed, with eight digits on its fore limbs and five on its hind limbs. Its tail is very short.

Possible chelonitoxism

P. bibroni is believed to be a species that, upon consumption by humans during certain seasons of the year, can lead to the phenomenon of chelonitoxism in a person. This may be due to certain phases in the turtle's diet. [9]

Threatened status

P. bibroni has a natural predator in the saltwater crocodile (Crocodilus porosus), but its current status as a threatened species stems from human activity. Locals often hunt the animal for its meat and eggs, and tribal masks can be crafted from its carapace. No commercial hunting is present, however. [5]

Related Research Articles

Trionychidae family of reptiles

The Trionychidae are a taxonomic family of a number of turtle genera. Softshells include some of the world's largest freshwater turtles, though many can adapt to living in highly brackish areas. Members of this family occur in Africa, Asia, and North America. Most species have traditionally been included in the genus Trionyx, but the vast majority have since been moved to other genera. Among these are the North American Apalone softshells that were placed in Trionyx until 1987.

Arrau turtle species of reptile

The Arrau turtle, also known as the South American river turtle, giant South American turtle, giant Amazon River turtle, Arrau sideneck turtle or simply the Arrau, is the largest of the side-neck turtles (Pleurodira) and the largest freshwater turtle in Latin America. The species primarily feeds on plant material and typically nests in large groups on beaches. Due to hunting of adults, collecting of their eggs, pollution, habitat loss, and dams, the Arrau turtle is seriously threatened.

Pig-nosed turtle species of reptile

The pig-nosed turtle, also known as the pitted-shelled turtle or Fly River turtle, is a species of turtle native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea.

Indian narrow-headed softshell turtle species of reptile

Indian narrow-headed softshell turtle also known as small-headed softshell turtle is an endangered species of softshell turtle found in rivers of South Asia. It is very large and feeds on fish, frogs, crustaceans and molluscs, which it ambushes. In the past it was included in Chitra chitra; a species restricted to Southeast Asia using current taxonomy.

Indian flapshell turtle species of reptile

The Indian flapshell turtle is a freshwater species of turtle found in South Asia. The “flap-shelled” name stems from the presence of femoral flaps located on the plastron. These flaps of skin cover the limbs when they retract into the shell. It is unclear what protection the flaps offer against predators. Indian flapshell turtles are widespread and common in the South Asian provinces.

Asian giant softshell turtle species of reptile

The Asian giant softshell turtle, also known as Cantor's giant softshell turtle and the frog-faced softshell turtle, is a species of freshwater turtle in the family Trionychidae. The species is native to Southeast Asia. It has been considered to be among the largest extant freshwater turtles. The species is endangered and in the 20th century has disappeared from much of its former range.

<i>Pelochelys</i> genus of reptiles

Pelochelys is a genus of giant softshell turtles in the family Trionychidae.

Chinese softshell turtle species of reptile

The Chinese softshell turtle is a species of softshell turtle that is endemic to China, with records of escapees—some of which have established introduced populations—in a wide range of other Asian countries, as well as Spain, Brazil and Hawaii.

Spiny softshell turtle species of reptile

The spiny softshell turtle is a species of softshell turtle, one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. Both the common name, spiny softshell, and the specific name, spinifera (spine-bearing), refer to the spiny, cone-like projections on the leading edge of the carapace, which are not scutes (scales).

Florida softshell turtle Species of reptile

The Florida softshell turtle is a species of softshell turtle native to the Southeastern United States.

Yangtze giant softshell turtle species of reptile

The Yangtze giant softshell turtle, also known as the Red River giant softshell turtle, the Shanghai softshell turtle, the speckled softshell turtle, and Swinhoe's softshell turtle, is an extremely rare species of turtle in the family Trionychidae. The species is endemic to eastern and southern China and northern Vietnam. Only three living individuals are known, one in China (captive) and two in Vietnam (wild), following the deaths of a wild individual in Vietnam in January 2016 and a captive individual in China in 2019, and it is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List. It may be the largest living freshwater turtle in the world. The female of the last breeding pair died at Suzhou Zoo in China in April 2019, making the species functionally extinct unless a wild female is found.

Asiatic softshell turtle species of reptile

The Asiatic softshell turtle or black-rayed softshell turtle is a species of softshell turtle in the Trionychidae family. It is not the only softshell turtle in Asia.

Asian narrow-headed softshell turtle species of reptile

The Asian narrow-headed softshell turtle is a large species of softshell turtle in the family Trionychidae. The species is endemic to Southeast Asia.

Nilssonia is a genus of softshell turtles from rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes in South Asia and Burma. In many treatments, it is monotypic, with the single species Burmese peacock softshell. However, the supposed other genus of peacock softshells, Aspideretes, is more closely related to N. formosa than had been believed. They differ only in the neural plates between the first pleural scale pair of the bony carapace, which are fused into one in N. formosa and unfused in the others.

New Guinea snake-necked turtle species of reptile

The New Guinea snake-necked turtle is a species of turtle in the family Chelidae. The species is found almost exclusively within Western Province, Papua New Guinea.

Smooth softshell turtle species of reptile

The smooth softshell turtle is a species of softshell turtle of the family Trionychidae. The species is endemic to North America.

<i>Elseya albagula</i> species of reptile

Elseya albagula, commonly known as the white-throated snapping turtle, is one of the largest species of chelid turtles in the world, growing to about 45 cm (18 in) carapace length.

<i>Chelodina canni</i> species of reptile

Chelodina canni, known as Cann's snake-necked turtle, is an Australian species found in the northern and northeastern parts of the continent. It has a narrow zone of hybridization with its related species the eastern snake-necked turtle, Chelodina longicollis. For many years this species was assumed to be the same species as Chelodina novaeguineae from New Guinea, however recently it has been shown that these two species differ both morphologically and genetically. Hence it was separated and described as a unique species in 2002.

The northern New Guinea giant softshell turtle is a species of turtle found in the lowlands of northern New Guinea. South of the Central Range it is replaced by the closely related New Guinea giant softshell turtle.

Giant softshell turtle may refer to the following:


  1. Fritz, Uwe; Havaš, Peter (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World" (PDF). Vertebrate Zoology. 57 (2): 317. ISSN   1864-5755. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Turtles of the World: Annotated Checklist of Taxonomy and Synonymy, December 2010.
  3. Georges, Arthur; Guarino, Fiorenzo; Bito, Biatus (2006). "Freshwater turtles of the TransFly region of Papua New Guinea – notes on diversity, distribution, reproduction, harvest and trade". Wildlife Research33.5: 373–384.
  4. Georges A, Alacs E, Pauza M, Kinginapi F, Ona A, Eisemberg C (2008). "Freshwater turtles of the Kikori Drainage, Papua New Guinea, with special reference to the pig-nosed turtle, Carettochelys insculpta". Wildlife Research35: 700–711.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Bonin, Franck; Devaux, Bernard; Dupré, Alain (2006). Turtles of the World. (Translated by Peter C. H. Pritchard). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  6. Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN   978-1-4214-0135-5. (Pelochelys bibroni, p. 25).
  7. Webb RG (2002). "Observations on the Giant Softshell Turtle, Pelochelys cantorii, with description of a new species". Hamadryad27 (1): 99-107.
  8. Rhodin, Anders G. J.; Spring, Sylvia; Pritchard, Peter C. H. (1980). "Glossary of turtle vernacular names used in the New Guinea region". The Journal of the Polynesian Society1980: 105–117.
  9. Silas, E. G.; Fernando, A. Bastian (1984). "Turtle poisoning". CMFRI Bulletin35: 62–75.

Further reading