Cylindraspis inepta Günther, 1873

Saddle-backed Mauritius giant tortoise, Domed tortoise, Mauritius giant domed tortoise



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Testudo neraudii Gray, 1831:14; Testudo inepta Günther, 1873:397; Testudo boutonii Günther, 1875:297; Testudo sauzieri Gadow, 1894:315


Conservation Status


Last record: early 1700's

IUCN status: Extinct



Mauritius, Mascarene Islands


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

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.


Other references:

Arnold, E. N. (1979). Indian Ocean giant tortoises: their systematics and island adaptations. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 286: 127-145.

Arnold, E. N. (1980). Recently extinct reptile populations from Mauritius and Re´union, 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. (1984). Données sur la répartition géographique des tortues terrestres et d’eau douce aux îles Maurice et Rodrigues. Bulletin of the Mauritius Insitute 10(1): 75-102.

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.

Burleigh, R. and Arnold, E. N. (1986). Age and Dietary Differences of Recently Extinct Indian Ocean Tortoises (Geochelone s. lat.) Revealed by Carbon Isotope Analysis. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B 227(1246): 137-144. [Abstract]

Cheke, Anthony S. and Beentje, Henk. (2016). Citizen animals, dodo mayors – the curious account of a visit to Mauritius in 1632. Phelsuma 24: 1-5.

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.

Cheke, Anthony S. and Hume, Julian Pender. (2008). Lost Land of the Dodo: An Ecological History of Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues. London: T. and A.D. Poyser. 464 pp.

de Boer, Erik J. et al. (2015). A deadly cocktail: How a drought around 4200 cal. yr BP caused mass mortality events at the infamous ‘dodo swamp’ in Mauritius. The Holocene 25(5): 758-771. [Abstract]

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

Florens, F. B. Vincent. (2002). Osteological finds on Trois Mamelles mountain extends the known ecological range of the extinct endemic Mauritian tortoise [i]Cylindraspis[/i] sp. Phelsuma 10: 56-58.

Gadow, H. (1894). On the Remains of some Gigantic Land-Tortoises, and of an extinct Lizard, recently discovered in Mauritius. The Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 13: 313-324. [Abstract]

Gray, J. E. (1831). Synopsis Reptilium; or Short Descriptions of the Species of Reptiles. Part I.—Cataphracta. Tortoises, Crocodiles, and Enaliosaurians. London: Treuttel, Wurz, and Co., 85 pp. [Published May 1831].

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. (1875). Descriptions of the living and extinct races of gigantic land-tortoises. Parts I and II. Introduction, and the tortoises of the Galapagos Islands. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 165: 251-284.

Haddon, Alfred C. (1880). On the Extinct Land‐Tortoises of Mauritius and Rodriguez. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 15(81): 58-59. [Abstract]

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.

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

Kehlmaier, C., Graciá, E., Ali, J.R., Campbell, P.D., Chapman, S.D., Deepak, V., Ihlow, F., Jalil, N.-E., Pierre-Huyet, L., Samonds, K.E., Vences, M., Fritz, U. (2023). Ancient DNA elucidates the lost world of western Indian Ocean giant tortoises and reveals a new species from Madagascar. Science Advances 9(2): eabq2574.

Regalado, Pedro Galán. (2015). Los Anfibios y Reptiles Extinguidos: Herpetofauna Desaparecida Desde el Año 1500. Monografías de la Universidade da Coruña 155: 1-509.

Rijsdijk, Kenneth F. et al. (2009). Mid-Holocene vertebrate bone Concentration-Lagerstätte on oceanic island Mauritius provides a window into the ecosystem of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus). Quaternary Science Reviews 28: 14-24.

Stoddart, D. R. (1979). Historical records of Indian Ocean giant tortoise populations. Philo-sophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 286B: 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.

van der Sluis, L. G. et al. (In Press, 2014). Combining histology, stable isotope analysis and ZooMS collagen fingerprinting to investigate the taphonomic history and dietary behaviour of extinct giant tortoises from the Mare aux Songes deposit on Mauritius. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. [Abstract]

World Conservation Monitoring Centre. (1996). Cylindraspis inepta. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. ( Downloaded on 20 July 2013.

World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1996. Cylindraspis inepta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1996: e.T6062A12385198. Accessed on 02 July 2022.


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