Turtles from the Jurassic Shishugou Formation of the Junggar Basin, People’s Republic of China, with Comments on the Basicranial Region of Basal Eucryptodires

  • Donald B. BrinkmanEmail author
  • David A. Eberth
  • Xing Xu
  • James M. Clark
  • Xiao-Chun Wu
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)


Five fossil turtle species (?Sichuanchelys sp., three species of Xinjiangchelys, and an indeterminate species of Annemys) are present in the Shishugou Formation (late Middle to early Late Jurassic) of the Junggar Basin, northwestern China. Two of these, X. radiplicatoides sp. nov. and Annemys sp., are each represented by an associated skull and shell. These demonstrate that the Xinjiangchelyidae, as currently defined, encompasses different grades of evolution. X. radiplicatoides is primitive in features of the basicranial region, lack of emargination of the skull roof, and presence of an inflated postorbital region. Annemys sp., which has a low skull with deeply emarginated temporal and cheek regions and large foramina palatinum posterius, is similar to basal eucryptodires from the Early Cretaceous of Asia, particularly Hangaiemys. Early stages in the evolution of the basicranial region in eucryptodires are documented by the well-preserved basicranial region of X. radiplicatoides and Annemys sp. The slit-like structure of the foramen palatinum posterius in X. radiplicatoides is consistent with the interpretation that this opening developed by closure of the interpterygoid vacuity around the palatine artery. Processes of the basisphenoid that extend laterally into the pterygoid, identified here as basipterygoid processes, are well developed in Xinjiangchelys and most Early Cretaceous sinemydids/macrobaenids. Although a high taxonomic diversity of turtles is present in the Shishugou Formation, diversity at individual localities is low, often with a single taxon being present or overwhelmingly dominant, and most localities differ in the kinds of turtles that are dominant at that locality. This pattern of high alpha diversity (total diversity within a unit), low diversity within individual localities, and high beta diversity (between-locality diversity within a unit) is unusual in turtle assemblages, and suggests that the paleoecology of the Shishugou Formation has unusual aspects compared to similarly diverse turtle assemblages, where diversity at a locality typically reflects total diversity within the unit.


Annemys China  Junggar Basin  Jurassic Sichuanchelys Shishugou Formation  Xinjiangchelyidae  Xinjiangchelys 



We thank Wang Hai-Jun for his preparation of many of the specimens described here. The Jiangjunmiao turtle bonebed was discovered by Tang Zhi-Lu, and assistance in collecting from this locality was provided by Dennis Braman. The braincase of Xinjiangchelys radiplicatoides from the Jiangjunmiao turtle bonebed was prepared by Clive Coy. The authors would like to acknowledge the staff of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology for support in the field while collecting material described here from the Wucaiwan Locality and for assistance while we studied material in Beijing. The holotype of X. radiplicatoides was collected by Catherine Forster. We also acknowledge the help and support of Zhao Xi-Jin in sharing his expertise and understanding of the geology and fossil localities of Xinjiang. Andreas Matzke provided useful insights on the anatomy and evolution of eucryptodires in Asia. Jim Parham, Walter Joyce, Ben Kear, and Igor Danilov all reviewed the paper and made comments that led to its improvement; their time and efforts are greatly appreciated. CT scans were done at the University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility, Austin, Texas, USA. Drawings of the Annemys skull in Fig. 10.12 were made by Donna Sloan of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. This project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Science Foundation Division of Earth Sciences of the USA grant EAR 0310217, George Washington University, the National Geographic Society, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (to XX and JC).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald B. Brinkman
    • 1
    Email author
  • David A. Eberth
    • 1
  • Xing Xu
    • 2
  • James M. Clark
    • 3
  • Xiao-Chun Wu
    • 4
  1. 1.Royal Tyrrell Museum of PalaeontologyDrumhellerCanada
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and PaleoanthropologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Earth Sciences Section, Canadian Museum of NatureOttawaCanada

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