Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

A new species of extinct Late Quaternary giant tortoise from Hispaniola

SAMUEL T. TURVEY, JUAN ALMONTE, JAMES HANSFORD, R. PAUL SCOFIELD, JORGE L. BROCCA, SANDRA D. CHAPMAN

Abstract


Insular giant tortoise diversity has been depleted by Late Quaternary extinctions, but the taxonomic status of many extinct populations remains poorly understood due to limited available fossil or subfossil material, hindering our ability to reconstruct Quaternary island biotas and environments. Giant tortoises are absent from current-day insular Caribbean ecosystems, but tortoise remains from Quaternary deposits indicate the former widespread occurrence of these animals across the northern Caribbean. We report new Quaternary giant tortoise material from several cave sites in Pedernales Province, southern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola, representing at least seven individuals, which we describe as Chelonoidis marcanoi sp. nov. Although giant tortoise material was first reported from the Quaternary record of Hispaniola almost 35 years ago, tortoises are absent from most Quaternary deposits on the island, which has been studied extensively over the past century. The surprising abundance of giant tortoise remains in both vertical and horizontal caves in Hispaniola’s semi-arid ecoregion may indicate that this species was adapted to open dry habitats and became restricted to a habitat refugium in southeastern Hispaniola following climatic-driven environmental change at the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary. Hispaniola’s dry forest ecosystem may therefore have been shaped by giant tortoises for much of its evolutionary history.

 


Keywords


Reptilia, Caribbean, Chelonoidis, Dominican Republic, megafauna, Quaternary extinction, Testudinidae

Full Text:

PDF (5MB)

References


Auffenberg, W. (1963) The fossil testudinine turtles of Florida, genera Geochelone and Floridemys. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences, 7, 53–97.

Auffenberg, W. (1967) Notes on West Indian tortoises. Herpetologica, 23, 34–44.

Auffenberg, W. (1974) Checklist of fossil land tortoises (Testudinidae). Bulletin of the Florida Museum, Biological Sciences, 18, 121–251.

Bour, R. (1980) Essai sur la taxinomie des Testudinidae actuels (Reptilia, Chelonii). Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 4, 1–546.

Brace, S., Barnes, I., Powell, A., Pearson, R., Woolaver, L.G., Thomas, M.G. & Turvey, S.T. (2012) Population history of the Hispaniolan hutia Plagiodontia aedium (Rodentia: Capromyidae): testing the model of ancient differentiation on a geotectonically complex Caribbean island. Molecular Ecology, 21, 2239–2253.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05514.x

Burness, G.P., Diamond, J. & Flannery, T. (2001) Dinosaurs, dragons, and dwarfs: the evolution of maximal body size. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 98, 14518–14523.
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.251548698

Carlson, L.A. (1999) Aftermath of a Feast: Human Colonization of the Southern Bahamian Archipelago and Its Effects on the Indigenous Fauna. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 279 pp.

Cheke, A.S. & Hume, J.P. (2008) Lost Land of the Dodo: An Ecological History of Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues. T and AD Poyser, London, 480 pp.

Cooke, S., Rosenberger, A.L. & Turvey, S.T. (2011) An extinct monkey from Haiti and the origins of the Greater Antillean primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 108, 2699–2704.
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1009161108

Franz, R., Carlson, L.A., Owen, R.D. & Steadman, D. (2001) Fossil tortoises from the Turks and Caicos Islands, B.W.I. In: Clark-Simpson, C.A. & Smith, G.W. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th Symposium on the Natural History of the Bahamas. Gerace Research Center, San Salvador, Bahamas, pp. 27–31.

Franz, R. & Franz, S. (2009) A new fossil land tortoise in the genus Chelonoidis (Testudines: Testudinidae) from the northern Bahamas, with an osteological assessment of other Neotropical tortoises. Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History, 49, 1–44.

Franz, R. & Woods, C.A. (1983) A fossil tortoise from Hispaniola. Journal of Herpetology, 17, 79–81.
https://doi.org/10.2307/1563787

Froyd, C.A., Coffey, E.E.D., Knaap, W.O., Leuuwen, J.F.N., Tye, A. & Willis, K.J. (2014) The ecological consequences of megafaunal loss: giant tortoises and wetland biodiversity. Ecology Letters, 17, 144–154.
https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12203

Gerlach, J. (Ed.) (2014) Western Indian Ocean Tortoises: Ecology, Diversity, Evolution, Conservation, Palaeontology. Siri Scientific Press, Castleton, 352 pp.

Gibbs, J.P., Hunter, E.A., Shoemaker, K.T., Tapia, W.H. & Cayot, L.J. (2014) Demographic outcomes and ecosystem implications of giant tortoise reintroduction to Española Island, Galapagos. PLoS ONE, 9 (10), e110742.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0110742

Graham, A. (2003) Geohistory models and Cenozoic paleoenvironments of the Caribbean region. Systematic Botany, 28, 378–386.

Griffiths, C.J., Hansen, D.M., Jones, C.G., Zuël, N. & Harris, S. (2009) Resurrecting extinct interactions with extant substitutes. Current Biology, 21, 762–765.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.042

Hansen, D.M. & Galetti, M. (2009) The forgotten megafauna. Science, 324, 42–43.
https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1172393

Hansford, J., Nuñez-Miño, J.M., Young, R.P., Brace, S., Brocca, J.L. & Turvey, S.T. (2012) Taxonomy-testing and the ‘Goldilocks Hypothesis’: morphometric analysis of species diversity in living and extinct Hispaniolan hutias. Systematics and Biodiversity, 10, 491–507.
https://doi.org/10.1080/14772000.2012.748697

Hastings, A.K., Krigbaum, J., Steadman, D.W. & Albury, N.A. (2014) Domination by reptiles in a terrestrial food web of the Bahamas prior to human occupation. Journal of Herpetology, 48, 380–388.
https://doi.org/10.1670/13-091R1

Hedges, S.B. (1999) Distribution patterns of amphibians in the West Indies. In: Duellman, W.E. (Ed.), Patterns of Distribution of Amphibians: A Global Perspective. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, pp. 211–254.

Julien, A.J. (1878) Gigantic land tortoises. Nature, 19, 30–31.
https://doi.org/10.1038/019030d0

Kehlmaier, C., Barlow, A., Hastings, A.K., Vamberger, M., Paijmans, J.L.A., Steadman, D.W., Albury, N.A., Franz, R., Hofreiter, M. & Fritz, U. (2017) Tropical ancient DNA reveals relationships of the extinct Bahamian giant tortoise Chelonoidis alburyorum. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 284, 20162235.
https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.2235

Le, M., Raxworthy, C.J., McCord, W.P. & Mertz, L. (2006) A molecular phylogeny of tortoises (Testudines: Testudinidae) based on mitochondrial and nuclear genes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 40, 517–531.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2006.03.003

Leidy, J. (1868) Note of some vertebrate remains from the West Indian islands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of Philadelphia, 20, 178–180.

Lemm, J. & Alberts, A.C. (2012) Cyclura: Natural History, Husbandry, and Conservation of West Indian Rock Iguanas. Academic Press, London, 240 pp.

Loveridge, A. & Williams, E.E. (1957) Revision of the African tortoises and turtles of the suborder Cryptodira. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 115, 161–557.

Kemp, M.E. & Hadly, E.A. (2015) Extinction biases in Quaternary Caribbean lizards. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 24, 1281–1289.
https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12366

Kricher, J. (2006) Galápagos: A Natural History. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 336 pp.

MacPhee, R.D.E. (1999) Extinctions in Near Time: Causes, Contexts, and Consequences. Kluwer Academic/Plenum, New York, NY, 394 pp.

MacPhee, R.D.E. (2009) Insulae infortunatae: establishing a chronology for Late Quaternary mammal extinctions in the West Indies. In: Haynes, G. (Ed.), American Megafaunal Extinctions at the End of the Pleistocene. Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 169–193.
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8793-6_9

MacPhee, R.D.E., White, J.L. & Woods, C.A. (2000) New megalonychid sloths (Phyllophaga, Xenarthra) from the Quaternary of Hispaniola. American Museum Novitates, 3303, 1–32.
https://doi.org/10.1206/0003-0082(2000)3303%3C0001:NMSPXF%3E2.0.CO;2

Mann, P., Draper, G. & Lewis, J.F. (1991) An overview of the geologic and tectonic development of Hispaniola. In: Mann, P., Draper, G. & Lewis, J.F. (Eds.), Geologic and Tectonic Development of the North America – Caribbean Plate Boundary in Hispaniola. Geological Society of America Special Publication, 262, pp. 1–51.
https://doi.org/10.1130/SPE262-p1

Maurrasse, F., Pierre-Louis, R. & Rigaud, J.G. (1980) Cenozoic facies distribution in the southern peninsula of Haiti and the Barahona Peninsula, Dominican Republic, and its relations concerning tectonic evolution of the La Selle-Baoruco block. Caribbean Geology, Collected Contributions, 9, 1–24.

Meylan, P.A. & Sterrer, W. (2000) Hesperotestudo (Testudines: Testudinidae) from the Pleistocene of Bermuda, with comments on the phylogenetic position of the genus. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 128, 51–76.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-3642.2000.tb00649.x

Miller, G.S. Jr. (1916) Bones of mammals from Indian sites in Cuba and Santo Domingo. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 66 (12), 1–10.

Miller, G.S. Jr. (1929a) A second collection of mammals from caves near St. Michel, Haiti. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 81 (9), 1–30.

Miller, G.S. Jr. (1929b) Mammals eaten by Indians, owls, and Spaniards in the coast region of the Dominican Republic. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 82 (5), 1–16.

Miller, G.S. Jr. (1930) Three small collections of mammals from Hispaniola. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 82 (15), 1–13.

Olson, S. & Meylan, P.A. (2009) A second specimen of the Pleistocene Bermuda tortoise, Hesperotestudo bermudae Meylan and Sterrer. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 8, 211–212.
https://doi.org/10.2744/CCB-0766.1

Olson, S., Pregill, G. & Hilgartner, W.B. (1982) Studies on fossils and extant vertebrates from San Salvador (Watling’s) Island, Bahamas. Smithsonian Constibutions to Zoology, 508, 1–15.
https://doi.org/10.5479/si.00810282.365

Olson, S. & Steadman, D.W. (1977) A new genus of flightless ibis (Threskiornithidae) and other fossil birds from cave deposits in Jamaica. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 90, 447–457.

Peel, M.C., Finlayson, B.L. & McMahon, T.A. (2007) Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 11, 1633–1644.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-11-1633-2007

Poulakakis, N., Edwards, D.L., Chiari, Y., Garrick, R.C., Russello, M.A., Benavides, E., Watkins-Cowell, G.J., Glaberman, S., Tapia, W., Gibbs, J.P., Cayot, L.J. & Caccone, A. (2015) Description of a new Galapagos giant tortoise species (Chelonoidis; Testudines: Testudinidae) from Cerro Fatal on Santa Cruz Island. PLoS ONE, 10 (10), e0138779.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0138779

Pregill, G.K. (1981) Late Pleistocene herpetofaunas from Puerto Rico. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publications, 71, 1–72.
https://doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.63988

Pregill, G.K. (1982) Fossil amphibians and reptiles from New Providence Island, Bahamas. In: Olson, S.L. (Ed.) Fossil Vertebrates from the Bahamas. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology, 48, 8–21.

Pregill, G.K. & Olson, S.L. (1981) Zoogeography of West Indian vertebrates in relation to Pleistocene climatic cycles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 12, 75–98.
https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.es.12.110181.000451

Rhodin, A.G.J., Thomson, S., Georgalis, G.L., Karl H.V., Danilov, I.G., Takahashi, A., de la Fuente, M.S., Bourque, J.R., Delfino, M., Bour, R., Iverson, J.B., Shaffer, H.B. & van Dijk, P.P. (2015) Turtles and tortoises of the world during the rise and global spread of humanity: first checklist and review of extinct Pleistocene and Holocene chelonians. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B. & Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.), Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs, 5 (8), pp. 1–66.
https://doi.org/10.3854/crm.5.000e.fossil.checklist.v1.2015

Rímoli, R.O. (1976) Roedores Fosiles de la Hispaniola. Universidad Central del Este, San Pedro de Macorís, 93 pp.

Russello, M.A., Glaberman, S., Gibbs, J.P., Marquez, C., Powell, J.R. & Caccone, A. (2005) A cryptic taxon of Galápagos tortoise in conservation peril. Biology Letters, 22, 287–290.
https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2005.0317

Schwartz, A. (1980) The herpetogeography of Hispaniola, West Indies. Studies on the fauna of Curaçao and other Caribbean Islands, 61, 86–127.

Steadman, D.W. (2006) Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 480 pp.

Steadman, D.W., Franz, R., Morgan, G.S., Albury, N.A., Kakuk, B., Broad, K., Franz, S.E., Tinker, K., Pateman, M.P., Lott, T.A., Jarzen, D.M. & Dilcher, D.L. (2007) Exceptionally well preserved Late Quaternary plant and vertebrate fossils from a blue hole on Abaco, the Bahamas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 104, 19897–19902.
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0709572104

Steadman, D.W., Martin, P.S., MacPhee, R.D.E., Jull, A.J.T., McDonald, H.G., Woods, C.A., Iturralde-Vinent, M. & Hodgins, G.W.L. (2005) Asynchronous extinction of late Quaternary sloths on islands and continents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 102, 11763–11768.
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0502777102

Steadman, D.W. & Franklin, J. (2015) Changes in a West Indian bird community since the late Pleistocene. Journal of Biogeography, 42, 426–438.
https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.12418

Steadman, D.W. & Takano, O.M. (2013) A late-Holocene bird community from Hispaniola: refining the chronology of vertebrate extinction in the West Indies. The Holocene, 23, 936–944.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0959683613479683

Stuart, A.J. (1999) Late Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions: a European perspective. In: MacPhee, R.D.E. (Ed.), Extinctions in Near Time: Causes, Contexts, and Consequences. Kluwer Academic/Plenum, New York, NY, pp. 257–269.
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4757-5202-1_11

Stuart, A.J., Kosintsev, P.A., Higham, T.F.G. & Lister, A.M. (2004) Pleistocene to Holocene extinction dynamics in giant deer and woolly mammoth. Nature, 431, 684–689.
https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02890

Townsend, A.K., Rimmer, C.C., Latta, S.C. & Lovette, I.J. (2007) Ancient differentiation in the single-island avian radiation of endemic Hispaniolan chat-tanagers (Aves: Calyptophilus). Molecular Ecology, 16, 3634–3642.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03422.x

Trias, M., Ottenwalder, J.A., Jaume, D. & Alcover, J.A. (1997) Una campaña en la República Dominicana. Resultados preliminares. Endins, 21, 63–74.

Turvey, S.T. (2009) Holocene Extinctions. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 366 pp. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199535095.001.0001

Turvey, S.T. & Fritz, S.A. (2011) The ghosts of mammals past: biological and geographical patterns of global mammalian extinction across the Holocene. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 366, 2564–2576.
https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2011.0020

Turvey, S.T., Hansford, J., Kennerley, R.J., Nuñez-Miño, J.M., Brocca, J.L. & Young, R.P. (2015) A new subspecies of hutia (Plagiodontia, Capromyidae, Rodentia) from southern Hispaniola. Zootaxa, 3957 (2), 201–214.
https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3957.2.4

Turvey, S.T., Oliver, J.R., Narganes Storde, Y.M. & Rye, P. (2007) Late Holocene extinction of Puerto Rican native land mammals. Biology Letters, 3, 193–196.
https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2006.0585

Turvey, S.T., Peters, S., Brace, S., Young, R.P., Crumpton, N., Hansford, J., Nuñez-Miño, J.M., King, G., Tsalikidis, K., Ottenwalder, J.A., Timpson, A., Funk, S.M., Brocca, J.L., Thomas, M.G. & Barnes, I. (2016) Independent evolutionary histories in allopatric populations of a threatened Caribbean land mammal. Diversity and Distributions, 22, 589–602.
https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12420

van Dijk, P.P., Iverson, J.B., Rhodin, A.G.J., Bradley Shaffer, H. & Bour, R. (2014) Turtles of the world, seventh edition: annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution with maps, and conservation status. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B. & Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.), Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs, 5 (7), pp. 329–479.

Vélez-Juarbe, J. & Miller, T.E. (2007) First report of a Quaternary crocodylian from a cave deposit in northern Puerto Rico. Caribbean Journal of Science, 43, 273–277.
https://doi.org/10.18475/cjos.v43i2.a13

White, A.W., Worthy, T.H., Hawkins, S., Bedford, S. & Spriggs, M. (2010) Megafaunal meiolaniid horned turtles survived until early human settlement in Vanuatu, southwest Pacific. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 107, 15512–15516.
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1005780107

Williams, E. (1950) Testudo cubensis and the evolution of Western Hemisphere tortoises. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 95, 1–36.

Williams, E. (1952) A new fossil tortoise from Mona Island, West Indies, and a tentative arrangement of the tortoises of the world. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 99, 541–560.

Williams, E.E. (1961) Notes on Hispaniolan herpetology. 3. The evolution and relationships of the Anolis semilineatus group. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Breviora, 136, 1–8.

Woods, C.A. (1989) A new capromyid rodent from Haiti: the origin, evolution, and extinction of West Indian rodents, and their bearing on the origin of New World hystricognaths. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Science Series, 33, 59–90.

Woods, C.A. & Ottenwalder, J.A. (1992) The Natural History of Southern Haiti. Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, FL, 211 pp.

Woods, C.A. & Sergile, F.E. (Eds.) (2001) Biogeography of the West Indies: Patterns and Perspectives. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 608 pp.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4277.1.1

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


 
ISSN 1175-5326 (Print Edition) & ISSN 1175-5334 (Online Edition)
Published by Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand