Cretaceous Trionychids of Asia: An Expanded Review of Their Record and Biogeography

  • Igor G. DanilovEmail author
  • Natasha S. Vitek
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)


This chapter presents an expanded review of all described and/or figured specimens and taxa of trionychids from the Cretaceous (Barremian to Maastrichtian) of Asia. Cretaceous occurrences in Asia are limited to indeterminate trionychids and to the subfamily Trionychinae; cyclanorbines are unknown and previous reports of plastomenids are based on misidentified trionychine material. For the Trionychinae, we recognize 13 taxa of uncertain placement within the subfamily (“Aspideretesmaortuensis, four species of Khunnuchelys, “Paleotrionyxriabinini, “Trionyxkansaiensis and “T.” kyrgyzensis, and Trionychinae indet. 1–5), seven taxa within the tribe Trionychini (“Amydamenneri and “Am”. orlovi, “Aspideretesalashanensis, Aspideretoides riabinini and Aspideretoides sp., and Trionychini indet. 1 and 2), and three taxa within the subtribe Apalonina (Apalonina indet. 1–3). We also recognize Sinamyda and four indeterminate taxa as Trionychidae incertae sedis. Although two other tribes (Ulutrionychini and Rafetini) have been proposed to include some Asian Cretaceous trionychines, monophyly of those tribes has yet to be satisfactorily demonstrated. During the Cretaceous, earlier and more basal trionychids (i.e., trionychines with eight neurals) were more broadly distributed across Asia, whereas later and more derived taxa had more restricted ranges. The recognition of Aspideretoides spp. and three indeterminate Apalonina in the Cretaceous of Asia provides evidence for a shared history with North American trionychids.


Asia Cretaceous Soft-shelled turtles Trionychidae 



We thank T. V. Kurazheva (CCMGE) and V.B. Sukhanov (PIN) for access to collections in their care; E. V. Syromyatnikova (ZIN) for providing a photograph of ZPAL MgCh/52; Ren Hirayama for translating report of Suzuki (2005) from Japanese and J. F. Parham (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, USA), C.-F. Zhou (Paleontological Institute, Shenyang Normal University, Shenyang, China), and W. G. Joyce (Institut für Geowissenschaften, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany) for their reviews and useful comments on the submitted version of the manuscript. Finally, we would like to express special thanks to J. D. Gardner (Royal Tyrrell Musuem of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Canada) for his help and editorial work with our manuscript. Financial support for our study was provided by a grant from the President of the Russian Federation to the Leading Scientific Schools NSh-6560-2012.4 and by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HerpetologyZoological Institute of the Russian Academy of SciencesSt. PetersburgRussia
  2. 2.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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