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Keywords:

  • Testudines;
  • Testudinidae;
  • Hesperotestudo;
  • Geochelone;
  • Gopherus;
  • Pleistocene;
  • Bermuda;
  • zoogeography;
  • dispersal;
  • phylogeny;
  • new taxon

A recently discovered fossil land tortoise (Testudines: Testudinidae) is described from the Pleistocene of Bermuda. Its morphology is sufficiently well preserved to allow assignment to the extinct North American genus Hesperotestudo. However, several features of this tortoise are unique and it is named Hesperotestudo bermudae sp. nov. A review of the phylogenetic relationships of the better known genera of the Testudinidae suggests that the affinities of Hesperotestudo lie with other North American tortoises (Gopherus) and not with Geochelone or other testudinines; thus, Hesperotestudo is reassigned to the Xerobatinae. This is at least the fifth documentation of a testudinid dispersing over open ocean to an oceanic island (the first for Hesperotestudo) and it corroborates the hypothesis that members of this family are well suited to over-water dispersal.