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A geometric morphometric assessment of the 'batagurine process' of testudinoid turtles

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

The batagurine process and associated rearward extension of the pterygoid, putative diagnostic characters of the turtle taxon Bataguridae, are evaluated using geometric morphometrics. Visual examination of 28 testudinoid turtles, representing each of the three clades within the taxon, showed the presence of a possible batagurine process and rearward extension of the pterygoid in the majority of specimens, but identification of the batagurine process sensu stricto was not able to be objectively established. Six landmarks on the palatal surface and sets of semi-landmarks on the basioccipital and pterygoid were digitized on photographs of the ventral surface of each skull for geometric morphometric analysis, and subjected to Generalized Procrustes and Relative Warps Analysis. No significant differences in basioccipital, pterygoid or palate shape between the three taxa were found, and the Relative Warps Analysis of the Procrustes coordinates revealed no separation of taxa on relative warps one or two for any of the data sets. The batagurine process and accompanying posterior extension of the pterygoid are thus of questionable phylogenetic utility in the separation of the Bataguridae from other testudinoid turtles.


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