Temporal range: Eocene–Recent
Australian Snake-necked Turtle
(Chelodina longicollis)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Pleurodira
Family: Chelidae
Subfamily: Chelodininae
Genus: Chelodina
Fitzinger, 1826 [1]

Chelodina, collectively known as snake-necked turtles, is a large and diverse genus of long-necked Chelid turtles with a complicated nomenclatural history.[2] Although in the past Macrochelodina and Macrodiremys have been considered separate genera and prior to that all the same, they are now considered subgenera of the Chelodina.[2]

Chelodina is an ancient group of Chelid turtles native to Australia, New Guinea, the Indonesian Rote Island, and East Timor. The turtles within this subgenus are small to medium-sized, with oval shaped carapace. They are side-necked turtles, meaning they tuck their head partially around the side of their body when threatened instead of directly backwards.

Macrochelodina represents those species that have often been termed the Chelodina B group, or thick necked snake neck turtles. The subgenus was described in 1985 by Wells & Wellington (as a new genus) but was not recognized until recently when it was shown that the name was valid. As such they are a side-neck turtle of the family Chelidae with extremely long necks and long flattened heads. They are specialist fish eaters using a strike and gape mode of feeding. They are medium to large species with the largest Chelodina (M.) expansa reaching shell lengths of some 45 cm (18 in).[3] The first fossils (C. (M.) alanrixi) are known from Queensland from the Eocene period (Lapparent de Broin, F. de, & Molnar, R. E., 2001).[4]

Macrodiremys is a monotypic genus recently split off from the rest of the Chelodina.[5] Its sole member is the enigmatic Chelodina (Macrodiremys) colliei from Western Australia.


Current taxonomy follows that of Georges & Thomson, 2010[2] with updates from van Dijk et al. 2014.[6]



Subgenus: Chelodina Fitzinger, 1826

Subgenus: Macrochelodina Wells & Wellington, 1985[12]

Subgenus: Macrodiremys McCord & Joseph-Uoni 2007[5]


  1. Fitzinger LJFJ. 1826. Neue classification der reptilien nach ihren natürlichen verwandtschaften. Nebst einer verwandtschafts-tafel und einem verzeichnisse der reptilien-sammlung des K. K. zoologischen museum's zu Wien. J.G. Hübner, Wien. vii, 66 pp.
  2. 1 2 3 Georges, A. & Thomson, S. 2010. Diversity of Australasian freshwater turtles, with an annotated synonymy and keys to species. Zootaxa 2496: 1–37.
  3. Macrochelodina expansa (Grey, 1856) - Broad-Shelled Turtle
  4. Lapparent de Broin, F. de, & Molnar, R. E., 2001: Eocene chelid turtles from Redbank Plains, Southeast Queensland, Australia. Geodiversitas: Vol. 23, #1, pp. 41-79
  5. 1 2 McCord, W.P. & Joseph-Uoni, M. (2007a). A New Genus of Australian Longneck Turtle (Testudines: Chelidae) and a New Species of Macrochelodina from the Kimberley Region of Western Australia (Australia. Reptilia 31:56–64.
  6. Turtle Taxonomy Working Group [van Dijk, P.P., Iverson, J.B., Rhodin, A.G.J., Shaffer, H.B., and Bour, R.]. 2014. Turtles of the world, 7th edition: annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution with maps, and conservation status. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs 5(7):000.329–479, doi:10.3854/ crm.5.000.checklist.v7.2014.
  7. McCord W, Thomson S. (2002). A new species of Chelodina (Testudines: Pleurodira: Chelidae) from Northern Australia. Journal of Herpetology 36(2):255-267. PDF
  8. Chelodina gunaleni, The Reptile Database
  9. Rhodin, Anders G.J. (1994b). Chelid turtles of the Australasian Archipelago: II. A new species of Chelodina from Roti Island, Indonesia. Breviora 498:1–31.PDF
  10. Yates (2013). A new species of long-necked turtle (Pleurodira: Chelidae: Chelodina) from the late Miocene Alcoota Local Fauna, Northern Territory, Australia. PeerJ 1:e170; DOI 10.7717/peerj.170
  11. Rhodin, Anders G.J. (1994a). Chelid turtles of the Australasian Archipelago: I. A new species of Chelodina from southeastern Papua New Guinea. Breviora 497:1–36. PDF
  12. Wells, R.W. and Wellington, C.R. (1985). A classification of the amphibia and reptilia of Australia. Australian Journal of Herpetology, Supplementary Series. 1:1-61.
  13. Lapparent de Broin, F. de, & Molnar, R.E. (2001). Eocene chelid turtles from Redbank Plains, Southeast Queensland, Australia. Geodiversitas 23(1):41-79.
  14. de Vis, C.W. (1897). The extinct freshwater turtles of Queensland. Annals of the Queensland Museum 3: 3-7.
  15. Thomson S., Kennett R. and Georges A. (2000). A new species of long necked turtle (Chelidae:Chelodina) from the sandstone plateau of Arnhem Land, Northern Australia. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 3:675-685.
  16. Cann, John (1997d). Kuchling’s turtle. Monitor (Journal of the Victorian Herpetological Society) 9(1):41–44,32.
  17. Gray, John Edward (1841). A catalogue of the species of reptiles and amphibia hitherto described as inhabiting Australia, with a description of some new species from Western Australia, and some remarks on their geographical distribution. In: Grey, G. Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in Northwest and Western Australia. London: T. and W. Boone, Vol. 2. Appendix E, pp. 422–449.
  18. McCord, William P. and Joseph-Ouni, Mehdi (2007b). A new genus of Australian longneck turtle (Testudines: Chelidae) and a new species of Macrochelodina from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. (Australia). Reptilia (GB) (Barcelona) 55:56–64.
  19. Gray, John Edward (1856a). On some new species of freshwater tortoises from North America, Ceylon and Australia, in the collection of the British Museum. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1855[1856](23):197–202.
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