Morphology and Relationships of Brachyopsemys tingitana gen. et sp. nov. from the Early Paleocene of Morocco and Recognition of the New Eucryptodiran Turtle Family: Sandownidae

  • Haiyan TongEmail author
  • Peter Meylan
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)


The first cryptodiran turtle with a pitted palate, Brachyopsemys tingitana gen. et sp. nov., is described on the basis of skulls and a lower jaw from the early Paleocene (Danian) of the Ouled Abdoun Basin, Morocco. The new taxon shares a number of apomorphic features with Sandownia harrisi from the Aptian of the Isle of White, England, Angolachelys mbaxi from the Turonian of Angola, and an unnamed turtle from the Albian Glen Rose Formation in Texas. A phylogenetic analysis provides evidence that they form a monophyletic clade which we name the Sandownidae fam. nov. The phylogenetic relationships of Sandownidae are problematic. Their affinities among the Eucryptodira remain uncertain; a well-preserved shell of a member of the family may be useful in determining relationships. The family appears to be a bottom-dwelling group that occurred in near-shore marine environments along the coast of the Atlantic across the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Its evolutionary history is connected to the development of the Atlantic Ocean.


Brachyopsemys Cryptodira  Early Paleocene Morocco  Sandownidae Phylogeny 



We thank F. Escuillié (Gannat) and B. Segaoui (Erfoud) for providing the specimens,; O. Mateus (Lisbon) for the data set of Angolachelys; E. S. Gaffney (New York), W. Joyce (Tübingen) and R. Hirayama (Tokyo) for reviewing the manuscript; J. Pfaller (Gainesville) for discussions of the zygomaticomandibularis, and the Singer-Polygnac Fondation and Eckerd College for financial support. AMNH 30001 was prepared by J. Klausen, J. Shumsky and J. Kelly (New York). The reconstruction of the palate was produced by F. Ippolito after A. Montalvo (New York). Special thanks to Gene Gaffney for providing opportunities to forward our careers.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Le Kremlin-BicêtreFrance
  2. 2.Division of PaleontologyAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Natural SciencesEckerd CollegeSt. PetersburgUSA

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