Temporal range: Early Miocene–Late Pleistocene
Shell of Hesperotestudo orthopygia
Skull of Hesperotestudo osborniana
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Testudinidae
Genus: Hesperotestudo
Williams, 1950
Type species
Hesperotestudo osborniana
(Hay, 1904)

See text

Hesperotestudo ("Western turtle") is an extinct genus of tortoise native to North and Central America (ranging as far south as Costa Rica[1]) from the Early Miocene to the Late Pleistocene.[2] Species of Hesperotesudo varied widely in size, with a large undescribed specimen from the Late Pleistocene of El Salvador reaching 150 cm (4.9 ft) in carapace length, larger than that of extant giant tortoises.[3] Historically considered a subgenus of Geochelone, it is now considered to be distantly related to that genus. Its relationships with other tortoises are uncertain.[2] The exposed areas of the bodies of Hesperotesudo species were extensively covered with large dermal ossicles, which in life were covered in keratin. It has been suggested that species of Hesperotestudo were relatively tolerant of cold weather.[4] Hesperotestudo became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene and beginning of the Holocene co-incident with the arrival of the first humans in North America, and sites have been found where Hesperotestudo were butchered.[3]


Species list is based on Vlachos, 2018[2]


  1. ^ a b Carbot-Chanona, Gerardo; Rivera-Velázquez, Gustavo; Jiménez-Hidalgo, Eduardo; Reynoso, Víctor Hugo (2020-11-04). "The fossil record of turtles and tortoises (Testudines) of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands, with comments on its taxonomy and paleobiogeography: a bibliographic review". Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Geológicas. 37 (3): 269–283. doi:10.22201/cgeo.20072902e.2020.3.1581. ISSN 2007-2902.
  2. ^ a b c Vlachos, Evangelos (2018-04-17). "A Review of the Fossil Record of North American Turtles of the Clade Pan-Testudinoidea". Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History. 59 (1): 3. doi:10.3374/014.059.0101. ISSN 0079-032X.
  3. ^ a b c d Rhodin, A.G.J.; Thomson, S.; Georgalis, G.; 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.; et al. (Turtle Extinctions Working Group) (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" (PDF). Chelonian Research Monographs. 5 (8): 000e.1–66. doi:10.3854/crm.5.000e.fossil.checklist.v1.2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 September 2022.
  4. ^ Moll, Don; Brown, Lauren E. (2017). "Reinterpretation of the Climatic Adaptation of Giant Fossil Tortoises in North America". Herpetological Journal. 27 (3): 276–286.
  5. ^ Williams , E.E. 1950. Testudo cubensis and the evolution of Western Hemisphere tortoises. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 95:1–36.
  6. ^ Meylan, P. A.; Sterrer, W. (January 2000). "Herperotestudo (Testudines: Testudinidae) from the Pleistocene of Bermuda, with comments on the phylogenetic position of the genus". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 128 (1): 51–76. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2000.tb00649.x.
  7. ^ Olson, S. L.; Meylan, P. A. (December 2009). "A Second Specimen of the Pleistocene Bermuda Tortoise, Hesperotestudo bermudae Meylan and Sterrer". Chelonian Conservation and Biology. 8 (2): 211–212. doi:10.2744/CCB-0766.1. S2CID 85595118. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  8. ^ Leidy, J. 1889. Description of vertebrate remains from Peace Creek, Florida. Transactions of the Wagner Free Institute of Science of Philadelphia 2:19–31.
  9. ^ Biewer, Jacob; Sankey, Julia; Hutchison, Howard; Garber, Dennis (2016-03-08). "A fossil giant tortoise from the Mehrten Formation of Northern California". PaleoBios. 33. doi:10.5070/p9331030312. ISSN 2373-8189.