Rediscovery of the Carapace of the Lost Holotype of the Purbeck Turtle Cheloneobovata Owen 1842
Chelone obovata was named and described but not figured by Owen (1842) on the basis of a specimen (or specimens) from the Purbeck Limestone Group in the J. Chaning Pearce Collection. This material was subsequently lost to the scientific community and C. obovata has been treated as a nomen dubium in the few later works that mention it. One part—the carapace—has been relocated in the collections of the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. It is preserved in ventral aspect and is a carapace of the Purbeck Limestone Group turtle taxon now widely referred to as Hylaeochelys latiscutata (Owen) Lydekker 1889a. Although the species-name obovata is senior to latiscutata, it has the status of nomen oblitum and should not replace the widely used term, but should be listed in future synonymies.
KeywordsCretaceous Morphology Purbeck limestone Systematics Testudines
I would like to thank Tim Ewin (Bristol Museum and Art Gallery; now at The Natural History Museum, London) for directing me to the Chaning Pearce catalogue, Tom Sharpe and Cindy Howells (National Museum of Wales) for locating the specimen and giving me access to it, and Mike Howe (Geological Survey) for information about the Chaning Pearce ichthyosaur in the collections at the Geological Survey, Keyworth. The paper was improved by the refereeing of Steven Sweetman, David Brockhurst, and Richard Moody.
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