Cylindraspis vosmaeri Suckow, 1798:57

Saddle-backed Rodrigues giant tortoise, Greater saddleback toroise, Rodrigues giant saddleback tortoise



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Testudo commersoni Vaillant, 1898; Testudo indica Suckow, 1798; Testudo rodericensis Günther, 1873; Geochelone vosmaeri Suckow, 1798


Conservation Status


Last record: 1800 (World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 1996b); after 1800 (1802?)?

IUCN RedList status: Extinct



Rodrigues, Mascarene Islands


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Suckow, G. A. (1798). Anfangsgründe der theoretischen und angewandten Naturgeschichte der Thiere. Dritter Theil. Von den Amphibien. Leipzig: Weidmannischen Buchhandlung. 298 pp.


Other references:

Arnold, E. N. (1979). Indian Ocean giant tortoises: their systematics and island adaptations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 286B: 127-145.

Arnold, E. N. (1980). Recently extinct reptile populations from Mauritius and Réunion, Indian Ocean. J. Zool. 191: 33-47.

Austin, Jeremy J. and Arnold, E. Nicholas. (2001). Ancient mitochondrial DNA and morphology elucidate an extinct island radiation of Indian Ocean giant tortoises (Cylindraspis). Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 268: 2515-2523.

Austin, Jeremy, Arnold, E. Nicholas and Bour, Roger. (2002). The provenance of type specimens of extinct Mascarene Island giant tortoises (Cylindraspis) revealed by ancient mitochondrial DNA sequences. Journal of Herpetology 36(2): 280-285. [Abstract]

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. pp. 378. International Union for Conservation of Nature, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Bour, Roger. (1985 "1984"). Les tortues terrestres géantes des îles de l’océan Indien occidental: données géographiques, taxinomiques et phylogénétiques, pp. 17-76. In: F. de Broin and E. Jiménez-Fuentes (Eds.) Comunicaciones del I Simposium Internacional sobre Quelonios Fósiles, París, Octubre, 1983. Studia Geologica Salmanticensia, Volumen Especial 1 (Studia Palaeocheloniologica I) [1984].

Bour, Roger et al. (2014). Morphology and paleontological exploration (up to 2000) of the extinct tortoises of the Mascarenes Islands, pp. 121-202. In: Gerlach, Justin (ed.). Western Indian Ocean Tortoises: Ecology, Diversity, Evolution, Conservation, Palaeontology. Manchester: Siri Scientific Books.

Cheke, Anthony S. and Bour, Roger. (2014). Unequal struggle – how humans displaced the dominance of tortoises in island ecosystems, pp. 31-120. In: Gerlach, Justin (ed.). Western Indian Ocean Tortoises: Ecology, Diversity, Evolution, Conservation, Palaeontology. Manchester: Siri Scientific Books.

Day, David. (1981). The Doomsday Book of Animals: A Natural History of Vanished Species. New York, N.Y.: The Viking Press.

Groombridge, B. 1992. Global Biodiversity: Status of the Earth’s Living Resources. Report compiled by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Chapman and Hall, London.
Groombridge, B. (ed.). 1994. 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Günther, A. C. L. G. (1873). Preliminary notice of some extinct tortoises from the islands of Rodriguez and Mauritius. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (4)11: 397.

Hume, Julian Pender. (2014). Fossil discoveries in Rodrigues and Mauritius, pp. 203-228. In: Gerlach, Justin (ed.). Western Indian Ocean Tortoises: Ecology, Diversity, Evolution, Conservation, Palaeontology. Manchester: Siri Scientific Books.

Hume, Julian Pender et al. (2021). Discovery of the first Mascarene giant tortoise nesting site on Rodrigues Island, Indian Ocean (Testudinidae: Cylindraspis). Herpetology Notes 14: 103-116.

Kehlmaier, Christian et al. (2019). Ancient mitogenomics clarifies radiation of extinct Mascarene giant tortoises (Cylindraspis spp.). Scientific Reports 9: 17487.

Maas, P. H. J. (2010). Saddle-backed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise - Cylindraspis vosmaeri. In: TSEW (2010). The Sixth Extinction Website. ( Downloaded on December 11, 2010.

North-Coombes, A. (1986). Histoire des tortues de terre de Rodrigues et le mouvement maritime de l’ile de 1601 à 1808. Port-Louis, Mauritius: Service Bureau. 75 pp.

Stoddart, D. R. and Peake, J. F. (1979). Historical records of Indian Ocean giant tortoise populations.  Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 286: 147-158.

Tirvengadum, D. D. and Bour, R. (1985). Checklist of the herpetofauna of the Mascarene Islands. Atoll. Res. Bull. 292: 49-60.

Turtle Extinctions Working Group et al. (2015). Turtles and Tortoises of the World During the Rise and Global Spread of Humanity: First Checklist and Review of Extinct Pleistocene and Holocene Chelonians. Chelonian Research Monographs No. 5: 1-66.

Vaillant, L. (1898). Dessins inédits de chéloniens tirés des manuscrits de Commerson. Bulletin du Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris 4: 133-139.

World Conservation Monitoring Centre. (1996a). Cylindraspis vosmaeri. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. ( Downloaded on 11 December 2010.

World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1996b. Cylindraspis vosmaeri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1996: e.T6065A12391587. Downloaded on 26 June 2021.


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