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Emys orbicularis, European Pond Turtle
Dr. Heather A. Jamniczky - University of Calgary
Dr. Anthony P. Russell, University of Calgary
Emys orbicularis
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Chelonian Research Institute/Peter C.H. Pritchard (PCHP 2022)

Image processing: Dr. Ashley Gosselin-Ildari
Image processing: Dr. Jennifer Olori
Publication Date: 07 May 2007


Emys orbicularis, the European pond turtle, is a member of Emydidae within Cryptodira. Emys orbicularis is the only member of Emydidae that occurs in the Old World, and is also the only turtle to occur throughout most of Europe (Ernst and Barbour, 1989; Bonin et al., 2006). Emydidae contains the most species of any turtle group, and has an evolutionary record stretching back 80 million years (Ernst and Barbour, 1989; Bonin et al., 2006). Emydidae is closely related to the Old World pond turtles and tortoises (Geoemydidae and Testudinidae, respectively), but the relationship of these three close relatives to other turtles is unclear (e.g., Gaffney and Meylan, 1988; Joyce, in press).

Emys orbicularis is of medium Emys orbicularissize, reaching a carapace length of 21 cm (Ernst and Barbour, 1989; Bonin et al., 2006). The skull is relatively small and exhibits extensive emargination. There is a double articulation between the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae (Ernst and Barbour, 1989). The carapace is oval and somewhat flattened. The plastron is well developed and a hinge is present between the hyo- and hypoplastra. The digits are webbed, and the tail is relatively long. Dorsally, E. orbicularis ranges from olive-brown to black, and exhibits yellow radiations or dots. The plastron ranges from black to yellow, and each scute has a black border. Males have red eyes, while females have yellow eyes (Ernst and Barbour, 1989; Bonin et al., 2006).

Emys orbicularis ranges throughout continental Europe, from the Caspian Sea to the Atlantic coast, and occurs in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, and its range formerly included the Scandinavian countries and England (Ernst and Barbour, 1989; Bonin et al., 2006). It prefers slow-moving fresh water bodies with soft bottoms and abundant vegetation. Emys orbicularis is carnivorous, and actively hunts invertebrates, amphibians, and fishes, both in and out of water. Females lay several clutches of three to 16 eggs, and often do not reproduce every year (Ernst and Barbour, 1989; Bonin et al., 2006). Emys orbicularis is listed by the IUCN as near-threatened.

About the Species

This specimen was made available to the University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility for scanning by Dr. Heather Jamniczky of the University of Calgary. Funding was provided by Dr. Jamniczky and by a National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative grant to Dr. Timothy Rowe of The University of Texas at Austin.

About this Specimen

The specimen was scanned by Matthew Colbert on 3 August 2004 along the coronal axis for a total of 630 slices. Each 1024 x 1024 pixel slice is 0.055 mm thick with an interslice spacing of 0.055 mm and a field of reconstruction of 26 mm.

About the


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Emys orbicularis page from the Lithuanian Fund for Nature

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Front page image.

Emys orbicularia

To cite this page: Dr. Heather A. Jamniczky, Dr. Anthony P. Russell, University of Calgary, 2007, "Emys orbicularis" (On-line), Digital Morphology. Accessed May 27, 2017 at http://digimorph.org/specimens/Emys_orbicularis/.

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