Elseya is a genus of large side-necked turtles, commonly known as Australian snapping turtles, in the family Chelidae. Species in the genus Elseya are found in river systems in northern and northeastern Australia and throughout the river systems of New Guinea. They are identified by the presence of alveolar ridges on the triturating surfaces of the mouth and the presence of a complex bridge strut.
The Australian snapping turtles are largely herbivorous, with specialized mouth structures for eating fruits. However, they will eat animal products if opportunity arises. The various species can be found in large numbers where they are still abundant, e.g., Northern Territory of Australia. However, a number of the populations have become increasingly rare, and some are now listed as endangered.
John Edward Gray created the generic name, Elseya, in 1867 in honour of Dr. Joseph Ravenscroft Elsey, a surgeon-naturalist on the Gregory Expedition that traversed northern Australia from the Victoria River to Moreton Bay in 1855–1856.
The genus was originally described by Gray in 1867 with the type species being set as Elseya dentata. The fossil genus Pelocomastes was later synonymised with this genus. Following the recent revisions of this genus, the latisternum group has been moved to the new genus Myuchelys. The remaining species of this genus have additionally been separated into three subgenera, Elseya, Pelocomastes, and Hanwarachelys, and the species redistributed among them.
|Common name||Scientific name[a]||IUCN Red List Status||Picture|
|Northern snapping turtle||Elseya dentata
|Branderhorst's snapping turtle||Elseya branderhorsti
|Yellow-bellied snapping turtle||Elseya flaviventralis
Thomson & Georges, 2016
|White-throated snapping turtle||Elseya albagula
Thomson, Georges & Limpus, 2006
|Irwin's turtle||Elseya irwini
|Gulf snapping turtle||Elseya lavarackorum
(White & Archer, 1994)
Joseph-Ouni, & McCord, 2019
|Western New Guinea stream turtle||Elseya novaeguineae
Joseph-Ouni, & McCord, 2019
|Southern New Guinea stream turtle||Elseya rhodini
Thomson, Amapou, Anamiato & Georges, 2015
|Northern New Guinea stream turtle||Elseya schultzei
(T. Vogt, 1911)
There are two identified extinct species of Elseya. Elseya nadibajagu Thomson & Mackness, 1999 and Elseya uberrima (De Vis, 1897) are prehistoric species known only from fossils. E. lavarackorum was initially believed also to be a fossil taxon, but later discovered to be still extant. Elseya nadibajagu is a Pliocene species of extinct Australian snapping turtle, described from the Bluff Downs region of Queensland, Australia.; whereas Elseya uberrima is an Pleistocene species described from the Darling Downs region of Queensland, Australia.