Morphological variations and sexual dimorphism in Chelonoidis carbonaria (Spix, 1824) and Chelonoidis denticulata (Linnaeus, 1766) (Testudinidae)

Variações morfológicas e dimorfismo sexual em Chelonoidis carbonaria (Spix, 1824) e Chelonoidis denticulata (Linnaeus, 1766) (Testudinidae)

Chelonoidis Dcarbonaria and C. denticulata are two tortoises which are widely distributed Brazil. Although they occur sympatrically in different areas, C. carbonaria prefers open areas, while C. denticulata chooses forest areas. Significant morphological variations can be observed in these species due to the fact that they occupy a vast and environmentally diverse area. Data on shell shape of captive individuals reveal important differences between the two species, mainly in the plastron scutes, carapace width, and head length. Variation in shape is greater in C. carbonaria than in C. denticulata, which may be associated to a more elaborate and complex mating ritual. The shell shape in C. denticulata is more elongated than in C. carbonaria due to ecological habits. These aspects lead to a greater restriction in shape, limiting variation and dimorphism. In C. carbonaria, the shell opening is larger than in C. denticulata, which affords greater variation in shape. A more elongated shell facilitates movements of C. denticulata in densely forested areas. Yet, this characteristic reduces shell opening, lessening the possibilities of variation in form.

tortoise; carapace; plastron; shape


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