Skull of Cylindraspis sp. (Mauritius).
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Testudinidae
Genus: Cylindraspis
Fitzinger, 1835

(See text)

Cylindraspis is a genus of recently extinct giant tortoises. All of its species lived in the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, Rodrigues and Réunion) in the Indian Ocean and all are now extinct due to hunting and introduction of non-native predators.

Modern mtDNA studies of bone remains has determined that the Cylindraspis species were all descended from one species that colonised Mauritius from Madagascar by sea. The population on Mauritius differentiated into both saddle-backed and domed species, and the ancestors of the saddle-backed species (Cylindraspis inepta) then colonised Rodrigues (where they once again differentiated into both saddle-backed and domed species) and later Réunion, the most recently formed island.[1]

Human settlers colonised the Mascarenes in 1663. These giant tortoises were very large and slow, thus making them easy game. Like many island species they were also reported to have been friendly and unafraid of humans. Most species of this genus were already driven to extinction by 1795 and the last individuals were reputed to have died around 1840 (Arnold 1979, Bour 1980, Cheke and Hume 2008).


The genus contains at least the following species:


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cylindraspis.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 9/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.