Abstract

Relationships among turtle species loosely categorized within the South American genus Phrynops are explored. Three once recognized genera (Batrachemys, Mesoclemmys and Phrynops) that were demoted to subgenera, and then synonymized with Phrynops, are demonstrated to warrant full recognition based on morphometric analysis, skull osteology, and mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequencing. Mesoclemmys is resurrected from the synonymy of Phrynops as a monotypic genus including M. gibba. The genus Rhinemys, previously a synonym of Phrynops, is resurrected for the species R. rufipes. Ranacephala gen. nov. is described to include the species R. hogei. The genus Batrachemys is resurrected from the synonymy of Phrynops and includes B. dahli, B. nasuta, B. raniceps, B. tuberculata, and B. zuliae. The taxon vanderhaegei is placed in Bufocephala gen. nov. The genus Phrynops is redefined to include the taxa P. geoffroanus, P. hilarii, P. tuberosus, and P. williamsi. Cladistic analysis of morphological data supports this taxonomy. A new species of Batrachemys is described from the western Amazon region, and is distinguished by having facial markings in juveniles, a relatively wide head, and a flattened shell. The new species, B. heliostemma sp. nov., is sympatric with and most similar to the recently resurrected form Batrachemys raniceps in the upper Amazonian region of Peru and adjacent Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia. Lastly, morphometric data from living and museum specimens of all species of Batrachemys are presented.
Keywords: turtles, pleurodira, chelid, genera, south america, toadhead, iquitos, systematics