Skip to main content Accessibility help

Middle Jurassic turtles from the Sichuan Basin, China: a review



The turtle fauna of the Middle Jurassic Xiashaximiao Formation in the Sichuan Basin and the type series of Chengyuchelys baenoides Young & Chow, 1953 are revised. By the absence of a mesoplastron and other shell characters, both the holotype and paratype of Chengyuchelys baenoides belong to the family Xinjiangchelyidae and come probably from the Upper Jurassic Shangshaximiao Formation. The Middle Jurassic turtle assemblage of the Sichuan Basin is composed of two entities: the Bashuchelyidae fam. nov. (Bashuchelys gen. nov., Chuannanchelys gen. nov.) and Protoxinjiangchelys gen. nov. on the one hand, and Sichuanchelys on the other hand, with the former as the dominant group. Bashuchelyids and xinjiangchelyids are closely related to one another, while Sichuanchelys is more primitive and has no shared apomorphic features with bashuchelyids. The whole assemblage appears to be endemic to the Sichuan Basin at genus level and distinct from the Late Jurassic turtle fauna of the same basin in its relict nature and absence of the Polycryptodira.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence:


Hide All

Current address: 30 Rue Carnot, 94270 Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France



Hide All
Anquetin, J. 2010. The anatomy of the basal turtle Eileanchelyd waldmani from the Middle Jurassic of the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 101, 6796.
Anquetin, J., Barrett, P., Jones, N. E., Moor-Fay, S. & Evans, S. E. 2008. A new stem turtle from the Middle Jurassic of Scotland: new insights into the evolution and palaeoecology of basal turtles. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 276, 879–86.
Baur, G. 1887. Ueber den Ursprung der Extremitäten der Ichthyopterygia. Jahresberichte und Mittelungen des Oberheinischen Geologischen Vereins 20, 1720.
Bräm, H. 1965. Die Schildkröten aus dem oberen Jura (Malm) der Gegend von Solothurn. SchweizerischePalaeontologische Abhandlungen 83, 1190.
Brinkman, D., Li, J.-L. & Ye, X.-K. 2008. Order Testudines. In The Chinese Fossil Reptiles and their Kin (eds Li, J.-L., Wu, X.-C. & Zhang, F.-C.), pp. 35102. Beijing: Science Press.
Brinkman, D. & Matzke, A. T. 2009. New turtle specimens from the Jurassic Shishugou Formation of Xinjiang, China. In Gaffney Turtle Symposium, Abstract Volume (ed. Braman, D. R.), pp. 23–4. Drumheller: Royal Tyrell Museum.
Brinkman, D. & Peng, J. H. 1993. Ordosemys leios n. gen., n. sp., a new turtle from the Early Cretaceous of the Ordos Basin, Inner Mongolia. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 30, 2128–38.
Brinkman, D., Stadtman, K. & Smith, D. 2000. New material of Dinochelys whitei Gaffney, 1979, from the Dry Mesa Quarry (Morrison Formation, Jurassic) of Colorado. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 20, 269–74.
Cope, E. D. 1868. On the origin of genera. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 20, 242–30.
Cope, E. D. 1877. On reptilian remains from the Dakota beds of Colorado. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 17, 193–6.
Danilov, I. G., Averianov, A. O., Skutchas, P. P. & Rezvyi, A. S. 2006. Kirgizemys (Testudines, ‘Macrobaenidae’): new material from the Lower Cretaceous of Buryatia (Russia) and taxonomic revision. Fossil Turtles Research, vol. 1, Russian Journal of Herpetology 13 (suppl.), 4662.
Danilov, I. G. & Parham, J. F. 2006. A redescription of Plesiochelys tatsuensis from the Late Jurassic of China, with comments on the antiquity of the crown clade Cryptodira. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26, 573–80.
Danilov, I. G. & Parham, J. F. 2008. A reassessment of some poorly known turtles from the Middle Jurassic of China, with comments on the antiquity of extant turtles. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28, 306–18.
Datta, P. M., Manna, P., Ghosh, S. C. & Das, D. P. 2000. The first Jurassic turtle from India. Palaeontology 43, 99110.
Dong, Z.-M. 1992. Dinosaurian faunas of China. China Ocean Press, Springer-Verlag.
Fang, Q.-R. 1987. A new species of Middle Jurassic turtle from Sichuan. Acta Herpetologica Sinica 6, 65–9.
Fraas, E. 1913. Proterochersis, eine pleurodire Schildkröte aus dem Keuper. Jahreschefte des Vereins für Vaterladische Naturkunder in Württemberg 80, 1330.
Gaffney, E. S. 1979. The Jurassic turtles of North America. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 162, 95135.
Gaffney, E. S. 1990. The comparative osteology of the Triassic turtle Proganochelys. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 194, 1263.
Gaffney, E. S. 1996. The postcranial morphology of Meiolania platyceps and a review of the Meiolaniidae. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 229, 1166.
Gaffney, E. S., Hutchison, J. H., Jenkins, F. A. & Mekker, L. J. 1987. Modern turtle origins: the oldest known Cryptodira. Science 237, 289–91.
Gaffney, E. S. & Meylan, P. A. 1988. A phylogeny of turtles. In The Phylogeny and Classification of the Tetrapods (ed. Benton, M. J.), pp. 157219. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Ji, S.-A. 1995. Reptilia. In Fauna and Stratigraphy of the Jurassic–Cretaceous in Beijing and Adjacent Areas (eds Ren, D., Lu, L.-W., Guo, Z.-L. & Ji, S.-A.), pp. 140–58. Beijing: Seismic Press.
Joyce, W. G. 2007. Phylogenetic relationships of Mesozoic turtles. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 48, 3102.
Joyce, W. G., Parham, J. F. & Gauthier, J. A. 2004. Developing a protocol for the conversion of rank-based taxon names to phylogenetically defined clade names, as exemplified by turtles. Journal of Paleontology 78, 9891013.
Kaznyshkin, M. N., Nalbandyan, L. A. & Nessov, L. A. 1990. Middle and Late Jurassic turtles of Fergana (Kirghiz USSR). Yezhegodnik Vsesoyuznogo Paleontologichesgoko Obshchestva (Annual of the All-Union Palaeontological Society) 32, 185204.
Khosatzky, L. I. 1997. Big turtle of the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia. Russian Journal of Herpetology 4, 148–54.
Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae. Stockholm, 824 pp.
Lydekker, R. 1889. On certain chelonian remains from the Wealden and Purbeck. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 45, 511–18.
Lydekker, R. & Boulenger, R. A. 1887. Notes on Chelonia from the Purbeck, Wealden and London Clay. Geological Magazine 4, 270–5.
Matzke, A. T., Maisch, M. W., Ge, S. & Pfretzschner, H.-U. 2004. A new xinjiangchelyid turtle (Testudines, Eucryptodira) from the Jurassic Qigu Formation of the southern Junggar Basin, Xinjiang, north-west China. Palaeontology 47, 1211–66.
Matzke, A. T., Maisch, M. W., Sun, G., Pfretzschner, H.-U. & Stöhr, H. 2005. A new Middle Jurassic xinjiangchelyid turtle (Testudines; Eucryptodira) from China (Xinjiang, Junggar Basin). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 25, 6370.
Meylan, P. A. & Gaffney, E. S. 1992. Sinaspideretes is not the oldest trionychid turtle. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 12, 257–9.
Milner, A. R. 2004. The turtles of Purbeck Limestone Group of Dorset, southern England. Palaeontology 47, 1411–68.
Nessov, L. A. 1995. On some Mesozoic turtles of the Fergana Depression (Kyrgyzstan) and Dahungar Alatau Ridge (Kazakhstan). Russian Journal of Herpetology 2, 134–41.
Peng, J.-H. & Brinkman, D. 1993. New material of Xinjiangchelys (Reptilia: Testudines) from the Late Jurassic Qigu Formation (Shishugou Group) of the Pingfengshan locality, Junggar Basin, Xinjiang. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 30, 2013–26.
Peng, G.-Z., Ye, Y., Gao, Y.-H., Shu, C.-K. & Jiang, S. (eds) 2005. Jurassic Dinosaur Fauna in Zhigong. Chengdu: Sichuan People's Press.
Rougier, G. W., de la Fuente, M. S. & Arcucci, A. B. 1995. Late Triassic turtles from South America. Science 268, 855–8.
Sterli, J. 2008. A new, nearly complete stem turtle from the Jurassic of South America with implications for turtle evolution. Biological Letters 4, 286–9.
Sterli, J. & de la Fuente, M. S. 2010. Anatomy of Condorchelys antiqua Sterli, 2008, and the origin of the modern jaw closure mechanism in turtles. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30, 351–66.
Sterli, J., de la Fuente, M. S. & Rougier, G. W. 2007. Anatomy and relationships of Palaeochersis talampayensis, a Late Triassic turtle from Argentina. Palaeontographica, Abteilung A 281, 161.
Sukhanov, V. B. 2000. Mesozoic turtles of Middle and Central Asia. In The Age of Dinosaurs in Russia and Mongolia (eds Benton, M. J., Shishkin, M. A., Unwin, D. M. & Kurochkin, E. N.), pp. 309–67. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sukhanov, V. B. 2006. An archaic turtle, Hecherochelys romani gen. et sp. nov., from the Middle Jurassic of Moscow region, Russia. Fossil Turtles Research, vol. 1, Russian Journal of Herpetology 13 (suppl.), 112–18.
Sukhanov, V. B. & Narmandakh, P. 1974. A new Early Cretaceous turtle from continental deposits of the Northern Gobi. In Fauna and Biostratigraphy of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic of Mongolia. Trudy Sovmestnoi Sovetsko-Mongol'skoi Paleontologicheskoi Ekspeditsii, pp. 192–220.
Tong, H., Buffetaut, E. & Suteethorn, V. 2002. Middle Jurassic turtles from southern Thailand. Geological Magazine 139, 687–97.
Tong, H., Ji, S.-A. & Ji, Q. 2004. Ordosemys (Testudines: Cryptodira) from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province, Northeastern China: new specimens and systematic revision. American Museum Novitates 3438, 120.
Wang, Q.-W., Liang, B., Kan, Z.-Z., Li, K., Zhu, B. & Ji, X.-T. 2008. Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction of Mesozoic Dinosaur Fauna in the Sichuan Basin. Beijing: Geology Press.
Ye, X.-K. 1963. Fossil turtles of China. Palaeontologia Sinica 150, New Series C, 18, 1112.
Ye, X.-K. 1973. Discovery of Plesiochelys from Upper Lufeng Series, Oshan, Yunnan and its stratigraphical significance. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 11, 160–4.
Ye, X.-K. 1982. Middle Jurassic turtles from Sichuan, SW China. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 20, 282–90.
Ye, X.-K. 1986 a. A Jurassic turtle from Junggar, Xinjiang. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 24, 171–81.
Ye, X.-K. 1986 b. New material of Plesiochelys radiplicatus with preliminary discussion of related problems. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 24, 269–73.
Ye, X.-K. 1990 a. Chengyuchelyidae n. fam., Middle Jurassic turtles of China. Studia Geologica Salamanticensia, Studia Palaeocheloniologica 3, 3340.
Ye, X.-K. 1990 b. Fossil turtles from Dashanpu, Zigong, Sichuan. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 28, 304–11.
Ye, X.-K. 1994. Fossil and Recent Turtles of China. Beijing: Science Press.
Ye, X.-K. & Fang, Q.-R. 1982. A new species of fossil Plesiochelys from Jingyan, Sichuan. Acta Herpetologica Sinica 1, 63–8.
Ye, Y. & Pi, X.-Z. 1997. A new genus of Chengyuchelyidae from Dashanpu, Zigong, Sichuan. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 35, 182–8.
Young, C.-C. & Chow, M.-C. 1953. New fossil reptiles from Szechuan, China. Acta Scientica Sinica 2, 216–43.
Zangerl, R. 1969. The turtle shell. In Biology of the Reptilia (eds Gans, C., Bellairs, d'A. & Parsons, T. S.), pp. 311–39. New York: Academic Press.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed