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Nuevo material reptiliano (chelonii. crocodylia) del Oligoceno inferior de Borken (Alemania Central: Hesse).



Remains of turtles are known from Eocene and Oligocene sediments in Borken for a rather long time. Some new taxa of turtles are described from here. The opinions concerning the validity of these taxa were already unclear and controverse discussed in time.

The new material would give a more complete picture of the turtle fauna of Borken.

The first materials of fossil turtles from the Early Oligocene of Borken were described from the lower Rupelian leyers called as "Melanian Clay" = Melanienton by GRAMANN (1956). The taxa Anosteira crassesculpta Harrassowitz, 1922 and Trionyx (Amyda) borkenensis Gramann, 1956 are described from the site of Gombeth (GRAMANN, 1956). SCHLEICH (1986) refers further remains to Trionyx aff. borkenensis Gramann, 1956, "Anosteira" aff. crassesculpta Harrassowitz, 1922 and Crocodylia indet. Other materials were discovered in 1984 and 1987 within the middle Eocene Lignite horizon of the open pit "Untertagebau Stolzenbach" during the development of the brown coal digging in the Borken area. From here SCHLEICH (1994) described the new emydid turtle taxa Palaeoemys hessiaca and Borkenia oschkinisi with too pure diagnoses; the material is deposited in the collection of the Kassel Natural History Museum, department Borken. After comparison with other materials from Europe, HERVET (2003) recognized that taxa as valid. This is followed preliminary in the present article.


The whole Melanienton of Borken is of upper Priabonian age and is to be looked as about immediately to age with the marine Latdorfian layers of Central Germany, e. g. Weisselster basin (KARL, 2007). The progressive transgression in the Hessian depression in this late Priabonian cycle is readable in the Borkenian profile in the increasingly marine character of the fauna of the recumbent at the slope end. The horizons A and B counted up to now as continuous limnic. Nevertheless, in the fish fauna the first marine influencing in the horizon lets itself already ascertain B, among other things with episodic appearance by clupeid otolithes (MULLER, in prep.). The whole tetrapod remains come from explanations on the eastern side of the open pit Altenburg IV (figure 1). Partial profiles of the Melanienton have been accessible there in several points in larger slides, in particular in the sites 1 and 3 in fig. 2. The material comes completely from the deeper Melanienton (limnic zone, horizon B 1, see figure 3). Nevertheless, because of the very disturbed relations no more continuous profile could be provided in the locality 1. Nevertheless, in point 3 several partial profiles have been taken up, although also here stronger by slides disturbed. The localities 2 and 4 are interesting only by the fish fauna (MULLER, in prep.).





Figure 4 shows the schematic reconstruction of carapace and plastron of testudine turtles (e. g. Testudo according to Karl Staesche [adapted]. Without scale.

Carapace plates: nuchal = nu, neurals = n I to n VIII, pleurals = pl I to VIII, peripherals = pe I to pe XI, metaneurals = mn I to II, pygal = py.

Carapace scutes: cervical = ce, centrals = c 1 to c 5, laterals = 1 1 to 14, caudal = ca.

Plastron plates: epiplastrals = epi, entoplastron = ento, hyoplastron = hyo, hypoplastron = hypo, xiphiplastron = xiphi.

Plastron scutes: gulars = gu, humeral = hu, pectorals = pec, abdominals = ab, femorals = fe, annals = an.

Figure 5 shows the schematic reconstruction of carapace and plastron of trionychine turtles (e. g. Pelodiscus sinensis [Wiegmann, 1835] according to KARL [1998]). Without scale.

Carapace plates: N I to N VII = neurals I to VII, Nu = Nuchal, P1 I to P1 VIII = pleurals I to VIII, C I to C VIII = costae I to VIII, Fp = postnuchal foramina.


Plastron plates: Epi = epiplastrons, Ento = entoplastron, Hyo = hyoplastrons, Hypo = hypolpastrons, Xiphi = xiphiplastrons.

In figure 6 the schematic reconstruction of the plastron of trionychine turtles (e. g. Amyda cartilaginea [Boddaert, 1770] according to KARL [1998] is shown. Without scale.

1 = Processus epiplastralis anterior, 2 = Processus epiplastralis posterior, 3 = Processus entoplastralis dexter, 4 = Processus entoplastralis sinister, 5 = Processus hyoplastrales media, 6 = Processus cardinus masculi anterior, 7 = Processus cardinus masculi posterior, 8 = Processus hypoplastralis medialis anterior, 9 = Processus hypoplastralis medialis posterior, 10 = Processus xiphiplastrales media, 11 = Processus xiphiplastrales anterior; I = Level of the Suturae hyohypoplastrales, II = Level of the Processus hypoplastrales media anterior, III = Level of the Processus epiplastrales posterior.



Order Chelonii Brongniart, 1800 (Latreille, 1800)

Infraorder Cryptodira Cope, 1868

Suprafamily Trionychoidea Fitzinger, 1826

Family Trionychidae Fitzinger, 1826

Subfamily Trionychinae Fitzinger, 1826

Tribe Trionychini Fitzinger, 1826

Subtribe Rafetoidina Karl, 1998

Genus Rafetoides Karl, 1998

Rafetoides austriacus (Peters, 1858)



- Trionyx (Amyda) borkenensis n. sp., GRAMANN, 1956: 17, Taf. 3, figs. 1-2;

- Trionyx borkensis Gramann, 1956, KUHN, 1964:188 [ex errore borkenensis];

- Trionyx aff. borkenensis Gramann, 1956, SCHLEICH, 1986: 283;

- ?Trionyx sp., SCHLEICH, 1994: 93, pl. III, figs. 2-4;

- Rafetoides austriacus (Peters, 1858), KARL, 1999: supplement 1, fig. 10, point 5;

- Rafetoides austriacus (Peters, 1858), KARL, 2007: 34.

Known distribution of species: Early Eocene of Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and many other European localities up to the lower layers of Rupelian (KARL, 1999, 2007).

Description: Ornament flat tesselat to knoblike with elated bulges in C/IV according to KARL (1998); both, processus cardinus masculi anterior and processus cardinus masculi posterior in pairs, multiple buildings of these are known.

Remarks: According to KARL (1997, 1998, 1999, 2007), due to present knowledge, only two species of the Trionychinae, each of it representing a separate genus, seem to have existed in the Paleogene of Central Europe. Rafetoides austriacus (Peters, 1858) is typical for the Eocene to the Early Oligocene in southeastern Europe. The most important synonym is Trionyx messelianus Reinach, 1900. GRAMANN'S (1956) species Trionyx (Amyda) borkenensis from the early Oligocene "Melanienton" of Borken (Lower Hesse) is a synonym of the present species also, present up to the underlayer of Rupelian. Up from the late Early Oligocene (Rupelian), only Trionyx triunguis Forskal, 1775 is recorded. Its most important synonym for the Rupelian/Oligocene (Meeressand of Alzey) of Germany is Trionyx boulengeri Reinach, 1900. The most important synonym for the Chattian/ Oligocene (Trbovlje/Trifail in Slovenia formerly Southern Styria) south of the Alps is Trionyx stadleri Teppner, 1913. Beside the presence of, in particular, high vertical structures in the ornament like in Rafetoides Karl, 1998 are typical. Trionyx differs clearly by only one processus cardinus masculi anterior, whereas in Rafetoides and Amyda Geoffroy Saint Hillaire, 1809 it is commonly paired. The ornament characters of the present discus material PMLU HS 406a is related to the type of Trionyx planus Owen, 1849, it is a synonym of Rafetoides henrici (Owen, 1849) the type species of the present genus.

References/material: Borken: PMUL: HS 406--nearly complete pleurals VII and VIII sin. (plate 1, figures 1-2); PMUL HS 407c-d-A10.02.07, two single pleural remains of different specimens in various age; PMUL HS 373-A10.02.03, one complete femor (length 40 mm, breadth prox. 14,5 mm, breadth dist. 9,5 mm).


Family Carettochelyidae Boulenger, 1887

Subfamily Carettochelyinae Boulenger, 1887

Genus Allaeochelys Noulet, 1867

Allaeochelysparayrei Noulet, 1867


- Anosteira crassesculpta Harrassowitz, 1922, GRAMANN, 1956: 18;

- Anosteira crassesculpta = gracilis Harrassowitz, 1922, KUHN, 1964: 181;

- "Anosteira" aff. crassesculpta Harrassowitz, 1922, SCHLEICH, 1986: 285;

- Allaeochelys parayrei Noulet, 1867 (syn. Anosteira crassesculpta et gracilis Harrassowitz, 1922), KARL, GRONING & BRAUCKMANN, 2006: 51-57;

- Allaeochelys Noulet, 1867 (syn. Anosteira crassesculpta Harrassowitz, 1922), KARL, 2007: 61.

Known distribution of the genus: Early Eocene to the late middle Eocene of Spain, England, Belgium, France and Germany. The only specimen hitherto known from the late Oligocene (Chattian: early "Eochattttian") from clay pit in the Elbe-bank near Steutz, approximately 12 km WNW Dessau, Sachsen-Anhalt in central Germany is described by KARL, GRONING & BRAUCKMANN (2006). JOYCE et al. (2004) described a related single peripheral plate from the Middle Miocene (MN 5) of the Hambach pit W of Cologne, western Germany.

Description: Ornament flat tesselat to knoblike without elated bulges in C/IV according to KARL (1998); bridge strong ossified, fontanelles absent, posterior part of carapace sharp carinate; sulci absent; usually six neurals present. The ornament of the shell varies both individually and ontogenetically.

Remarks: A survey of the genus is given by KARL, GRONING & BRAUCKMANN (2006). The most remarkable fossil of the present sample are the fused phalanges PMUL HS 326. This condition used HARRASSOWITZ (1922) for founding his Anosteira gracilis from the Messel shale. We can not interpreting that before present better material.

References/material: PMUL HS 385b-A10.02.04, one proximate pleural VI or VII remain dex. post. Connect to a alternate pleural at midline; PMUL HS 407a-b-A10.02.07, one nearly complete single peripheral plate from the posterolateral border (plate 2, figures 8-9) and one xiphiplastral remain sin.; PMUL HS 388-A10.02.05, one pleural remain; PMUL HS 372-A10.02.03, one complete posterior pleural dex. (plate 2, figures 3-4) and one peripheral sin. between the bridge butresses. Incerta: PMUL HS 327-A10.02.01, one metatarsus (length 21 mm); PMUL HS 328-A10.02.01, one phalanx (22,5 mm) ans one single claw phalanx (length 15,5 mm); PMUL HS 326-A10.02.01, phalanx I and II fused by synosteosis to a unit (complete length 28,5 mm, phalanx I 16,5 mm) (plate 2, figures 5-7); PMLU HS 368-A10.02.03, some shell fragments o a very young specimen including a complete pleural I dex. (plate 2, figures 1-2); PMLU HS 374-A10.02.03, one nearly complete humerus dex. (length 29,5 mm, breadth prox. 10 mm, breadth dist 8 mm).


Superfamily Testudinoidea Batsch, 1788

Family Emydidae Gray, 1855

Genus Borkenia Schleich, 1994

Borkenia oschkinisi Schleich, 1994


- Borkenia oschkinisi nov. gen., nov. spec., SCHLEICH, 1994: 87, pl. II, fig. 2a-b, figs. 4-5;

- Borkenia oschkinisi Schleich, 1994, HERVET, 2003: 623.

Known distribution: First appearance in the Middle Eocene of Lignite mine at Stolzenbach/Borken, Hesse, hitherto known from here only.

Description: The most characteristic shell element in the present material is the entoplastron HS 407e. It is much broader than long (1,5 time). The visceral surface show characteristic muscle insertions which are clearly differs to that of Palaeoemys hessiaca Schleich, 1994 with the same type locality like the present species. The gular sulci not connect the anterior borders of the plate, but the humeropectoral sulci partly crossing the posterior border.

Remarks: The taxonomic relations between the European genera Mauremys, Ocadia and Palaeochelys ate still unclear. However, further taxa was described, based on characters with high individual and ontogenetic variability (KARL & TICHY, 2004).

References/material: PMUL HS 407e-A10.02.07, nearly complete entoplastron, right wing broken (plate 3, figures 1-2); PMUL HS 406b-A10.02.07, nearly complete peripheral VII sin. with the insertion of inguinal buttress (plate 3, figures 3-4); PMUL HS 384a-c-A10.02.04, three hyo or hypoplastron remains from the bridge region; PMUL HS 387a-c-A10.02.04, two pleural remains, one peripheral plate lost the marginal border; PMUL HS 385a-A10.02.04, one hexagonal neural 6A broader than long (1,6 time).


Family Ptychogasteridae De Stefano, 1903

Genus Ptychogaster Pomel, 1847

Ptychogaster spec.

Synonyms: None.

Known distribution: First appearance from Borken here.

Description: The most characteristic shell element in the present material is the hypoplastron remain dex. PMLU HS 390a. It show some characteristics of present movable plastral parts. The proximate pleural remain PMLU HS 388a show a neural alternation to a tetragonal. That condition is not present in the type specimen of Hummelemys ambigua Hervet, 2004 from the Lutetien (MP13) from Geiseltal.

Remarks: Ptychogaster Pomel, 1847 is the most important terrestrial emydid turtle genus for the German Oligocene. GROESSENS-VAN DYCK & SCHLEICH (1988) gave differential diagnosises for it taxa. An other important genus of the European Oligocene is Clemmydopsis Boda, 1927. Clemmydopsis turnauensis (H. v. Meyer, 1847) [syn. Testudo riedli Hoernes, 1892] is known from the Chattian/Oligocene from Trbovlje/Trifail in Slovenia formerly Styria. GROESSENS-VAN DYCK & SCHLEICH (1988) described further material of several Oligocene sites of the Mainz Basin and gave the follow taxa list: Chelydropsis Peters, 1868, Trionyx Geoffroy, 1809, "Ocadia" Gray, 1873, Ptychogaster laurae (Forster & Becker, 1886), Ptychogaster laharpei Portis, 1856, Ptychogaster ronheimensis Groessens-Van Dyck & Schleich, 1985, Palaeochelys Meyer, 1847, Ergilemys Ckhikhvadze, 1972, Geochelone Fitzinger, 1835, Testudo Linnaeus, 1758.

References/material: PMUL HS 390a-A10.02.05, hypoplastron dex.; PMUL HS 388a-A10.02.05, pleural remain prox.

Legion Archosauromorpha Huene, 1946

Supercohort Crurotarsi Sereno & Arcucci, 1990

Cohort Crocodylotarsi Benton & Clark, 1988

Magnorder Suchia Krebs, 1974

Superorder Crocodylomorpha Walker, 1968

Order Eusuchia emend. Huxley, 1875

Suborder Eusuchia Huxley, 1875

Infraorder Brevirostres (sensu Buffetaut, 1985)

Family Leidyosuchidae Rauhe & Rossmann, 1995

Genus Diplocynodon Pomel, 1847

Diplocynodon cf. hantonensis (Wood, 1846)



- Diplocynodon bantonensis, (Wood, 1846), GRAMANN, 1958: 77, pl. 8, figs. 1-3; - Crocodylia indet., SCHEICH, 1986: 287;

- ?Diplocynodon sp., SCHLEICH, 1994: 93, pl. III, fig. 5.

Known distribution of the genus: First appearance in the Middle Eocene of both, Europe and North America. Although no subsequent occurrence has been reported from the Western Hemisphere it seems to have persisted in the Old World until the Middle Pliocene. Diplocynodon is the most common genus in European sites during the Oligocene.

Description: According to STEEL (1973), Diplocynodon is distinguished primarily by the double caniniform teeth in the upper jaw. The bridges of surface of dermal plates are broader than the diameters of holes; this is a significant character of Diplocynodon (KARL, 1990).

Remarks: GRAMANN (1958) describes a fragmentary left dental with 13 alveoles as Diplocynodon hantonensis (Wood, 1846) from the lower Oligocene Melanienton from the quarry "Altenburg III" of Borken. A survey to the genus is given by KARL (2007). SCHLEICH (1994) listed a very damaged and eroded single tooth remain as Asiatosuchus sp., but the specimen is too pure known for a determination.

References/material: PMLU HS 389-A10.02.05, eleven dermal ossifications by a young individual, the largest complete specimens are 26,5 x 26,5 mm and 26,5 x 22,5 mm (plate 4 for the complete sample); PMLU HS 370-A10.02.03, one dermal ossification and a vertebra remain; PMLU HS 388-A10.02.05, one small dermal ossification remain; PMLU HS 368-A10.02.03, one small dermal ossification remain.


Within the browncoal basin, there occur different ecological types of turtles: index genera for Paleogene fluviatil to brackish sediments as Allaeochelys and Rafetoides and the emydids as fluviatil to semiterrestrial element; and Testudinoidea as rare terrestrial/fluviatile elements. The European softshelled turtles group of the Pelaeogene genus Allaeochelys Noulet, 1867 is impartant. GRAMANN (1956) listed fragmentary material from the early to middle Oligocene "Melanienton" of Borken (Lower Hesse) as Allaeochelys crassesculpta Harrassowitz, 1922, origin described for the Geiseltalian (Lutetian, middle Eocene) of Messel hole. KARL, GRONING & BRAUCKMANN (2006) describes an actual occurrence from the late Oligocene (Chattian: early "Eochattian" = whole sequence Rupelian-Chattian) of a clay pit in the Elbe-bank near Steutz, approximately 12 km WNW Dessau, Sachsen-Anhalt. GROESSENS-VAN DYCK & SCHLEICH (1988) described further material of several Oligocene sites of the Mainz Basin and gave the follow taxa list: Chelydropsis Peters, 1868, Trionyx Geoffroy, 1809, "Ocadia" Gray, 1873, Ptychogaster laurae (Forster & Becker, 1886), Ptychogaster laharpei Portis, 1856, Ptychogaster ronheimensis Groessens-Van Dyck & Schleich, 1985, Palaeochelys Meyer, 1847, Ergilemys Ckhikhvadze, 1972, Geochelone Fitzinger, 1835, Testudo Linnaeus, 1758. Remains of such forms may be influenced in marine areas by rivers. The emydid genera Palaeoemys and Borkenia represents high fluviatile forms of turtles.

Crocodiles like Diplocynodon are a limno-fluviatil element, and may be influenced in marine areas by rivers also, some populations with adaption to brackish areas was possible (high number of juvenile specimens in the samples).

Abbreviations: PMUL = Palaontologisches Museum der Universitat Leipzig.


Special thanks are due to Dirk Urban- Erfurt for made the photographs and the layout of plates. Collegue Alexander Gehler from the Geocenter Gottingen prepares the figures 1 to 3.


GRAMANN, F. (1956): Schildkroten aus dem Melanienton von Borken (Niederhessische Senke) (Trionyx, Anosteira). Notizbl. Hess. L.-Amt Bodenforsch., 84: 16-20, 1 fig., 3 pls. Wiesbaden.

GRAMANN, F. (1958): Der Crocodilide Diplocynodon hantonensis (Wood) aus dem unteroligozanen Melanienton Niederhessens. Notizbl. Hess. L.-Amt Bodenforsch., 86: 77-78, 8 pls. Wiesbaden.

GROESSENS-VAN DYCK, M.-C. & SCHLEICH, H. H. (1985): Nouveaux Materiels de Reptiles du Tertiaire d'Allemagne. 4. Nouveaux Materiels des Tortues (Ptychogaster/ Ergilemys) de la Localite Oligocene moyen de Ronheim (Sud de l'Allemagne). Munchner Geowiss. Abh., (A), 4: 17-66, 3 figs., 4 pls. Munchen.

GROESSENS-VAN DYCK, M.-C. & SCHLEICH, H. H. (1988): Nouveaux Materiels du genre Ptychogaster do Basin de Mayence. Stud. Geol. Salmant., Vol. Especial 3; Studia Palaeocheloniologica, 2: 85-112, 5 figs. Salamanca.

HARRASSOWITZ, H. (1922): Die Schildkrotengattung Anosteira von Messel bei Darmstadt und ihre stammesgeschichtliche Bedeutung. Abh. Hessischen Geol. Landes. Darmstadt, 6 (3): 137-238, 10 tabs., 6 pls. Darmstadt.

HERVET, S. (2003): Deux nouvelles tortues de l'Eocene inferieur de Saint-Papoul (Aude, France). C. R. Palevol., 2: 617-624, 23 figs. Paris.

HERVET, S. (2004): A new genus of "Ptychogasteridae" (Chelonii, Testudinoidea) from the Geiseltal (Lutetian of Germany). C. R. Palevol., 3: 125-132, 1 fig. Paris.

JOYCE, W. G.; KLEIN, N. & MORS, T. (2004): Carettochelyine turtle from the Neogene of Europe. Copeia, 2004 (2): 406-411, 3 figs. Lawrence/Kansas.

KARL, H.-V. (1997): Zur Taxonomie und Morphologie einiger tertiarer Weichschildkroten unter besonderer Berucksichtigung von Trionychinae Zentraleuropas (Testudines: Trionychidae), 202 pp., 32 figs., 3 distributional maps, 1 tab., 3 cladogr. Unpubl. Diss., Univ. Salzburg.

KARL, H.-V. (1998): Zur Taxonomie der Minozoischen Weichschildkroten Osterreichs und Deutschlands (Trionychidae: Trionychinae). Mitteilungen zur Geologie und Palaontologie, Landesmuseum Joanneum, 56: 273-328, 9 figs., 10 pls. Graz.

KARL, H.-V. (1999): Die Zoogeographie der kanozoischen Weichschildkrote Trionyx triunguis Forskal, 1775 (Testudines: Trionychidae). Joannea-Geologie und Palaontologie, 1: 27-60, 5 figs., 2 apps. Graz.

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KARL, H.-V.; GRONING, E. & BRAUCKMANN, C. (2006): New carettochelyine turtle occurrence from the Oligocene in Germany and ist palaeozoogeographic importance. Clausthaler Geowissenschaften, 5: 51-57, 5 figs., 1 pl. ClausthalZellerfeld.

KUHN, O. (1964): Testudines. In: Fossilium Catalogus, L. Animalia (edit. WESTPHAL, F.). Gravenhage, Pars 107, 299 pp.

MULLER, A. (in press): Fischotolithen aus dem Melanienton von Borken. N. Jb. Geol. Palaont. Stuttgart.

SCHLEICH, H. H. (1986): Neue Reptilfunde aus dem Tertiar Deutschlands-6. Schildkroten-und Krokodilreste aus dem Braunkohlentagebau Gombeth bei Borken (Hessen). Lippische Mitteilungen aus Geschichte und Landeskunde, 55: 281-288, 1 fig., 2 pls.

SCHLEICH, H. H. & GROESSENS-VAN DYCK, M.-C. (1988): Nouveau Materiels de Reptiles du Tertiaire d'Allemagne. 9. Des Tortues de l'Oligocene d'Allemagne du Sud (Testudines: Testudinidae, Emydidae, Chelydridae). Stud. Geol. Salmant., Vol. Especial 3; Studia Palaeocheloniologica, 2: 7-84, 13 figs. Salamanca.

STEEL, R. (1973): Crocodylia. In: Encyclopedia of Palaeoherpetology (edit. KUHN, O.). Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart, Part 16: 1-116, 33 figs.

Hans-Volker KARL (*)

Arnold MULLER (**)

(*): Geoscience Center of the University Gottingen. Division Geobiology. Goldschmidtstrasse 3. D-37077 Gottingen. Correo-e:

(**): Institute and Museum of Geology and Palaeontology. University Leipzig. Talstrasse 35. D-04103 Leipzig. Correo-e:

(FECHA DE RECEPCION: 2007-10-27) (FECHA DE ADMISION: 2007-11-30)

BIBLID [0211-8327 (2008) 44 (1); 41-58]
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Author:Hans-Volker, Karl; Muller, Arnold
Publication:Studia Geologica Salmanticensia
Date:Jan 1, 2008
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