Characteristics of Shell Bone as an Identification Tool for Turtle Species (Reptiles: Testudines) in Java, Borneo, and Sumatra

Donan Satria Yudha(1), Fidelis Triki Sadewa Aritona(2*), Rury Eprilurahman(3)

(1) Laboratory of Animal Systematics, Faculty of Biology, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta
(2) Faculty of Biology, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta
(3) Laboratory of Animal Systematics, Faculty of Biology, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta
(*) Corresponding Author


There are 42 species of turtles; including sea turtle, freshwater turtle, tortoise, and softshell turtle (Reptilia: Testudines) living in Indonesia today. Turtles have economic values for quite a long time and it has led to illegal trade such as smuggling of carapace and plastron bones. Identification is needed to find out more details about the turtle species. Turtles have shells as unique features with different characteristics on each species. Shell’s identification usually relies on the shape of carapace and plastron. The purpose of this research is to understand turtle shell morphological characters and determine the diagnostic characters of each species. We conducted visual observation on specimen collections from the Laboratory of Animal Systematics, Faculty of Biology, Universitas Gadjah Mada and Museum of Biology, Faculty of Biology, Universitas Gadjah Mada. The result shows that each turtle species have their own unique shell bone’s characters, therefore it can be used to determine each turtle species of Indonesia.


turtle; bones; carapace; plastron

Full Text:



Brinkman, D., Rabi, M. & Zhao, L., 2017, Lower Cretaceous fossils from China shed light on the ancestral body plan of crown softshell turtles (Trionychidae, Cryptodira), Scientific Report 7, 6719 (2017), 1–11.

Das, I., 2010, A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia, pp. 168, 173, 174, 175, New Holland Publishers, London..

Das, I., 1997. A reassessment of Hardella isoclina dubois, 1908 (Testudines: Bataguridae) from the trinil beds of the Javan Pleistocene (Short Notes), Herpetological Journal, 7(2), 71­–73.

Eckert, K.L., Wallace, B.P., Frazier, J.G., Eckert, S.A. & Pritchard, P.C.H., 2012, Synopsis of the Biological Data on the Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Biological Technical Publication, BTP-R4015-2012.

Grace, K., 2012. Florida Museum of Natural History, viewed 3 November 2018. from

Iskandar, D.T., 2000, Kura-kura dan Buaya Indonesia dan Papua Nugini: dengan catatan mengenal jenis-jenis di Asia Tenggara, pp. 51–53; 57–62; 69–70; 77–84; 98, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Bandung.

Iverson, J.B., 1992, A Revised Checklist with Distribution Maps of the Turtles of the World, pp. 80–91; 98, 101; 242–280; 292, Privately Printed, Richmond, Indiana.

Joordens, J.C. A., Wesselingh, F.P., de Vos, J.,Vonhof, H.B. & Kroon, D., 2009, Relevance of aquatic environments for hominins: a case study from Trinil (Java, Indonesia), Journal of Human Evolution 57, 656–671.

Lydekker, R., 1889, Catalogue of the Fossil Reptilia and Amphibia in the British Museum (Natural History), Cromwell Road, S.W., Part III (Containing the Order CHELONIA), p.125, Order of the Trustees, London.

Pritchard, P.C.H., Rabett, R.J. & Piper, P., 2009, Distinguishing Species of Geoemydid and Trionychid Turtles from Shell Fragments: Evidence from the Pleistocene at Niah Caves, Sarawak, International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 19(4), 531–550.

Rhodin, A.G.J., Iverson, J.B., Bour, R., Fritz, U., Georges, A., Shaffer, H.B. & van Djik, P.P., 2017, Turtles of the World Annotated Checklist and Atlas of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status 8th, pp. 9–14; 27–32; 83–86; 140; 145; 162–173, Chelonian Research Foundation, Massachusetts.

Setiyabudi, E., 2009, An early Pleistocene giant tortoise (Reptilia; Testudines; Testudinidae) from the Bumiayu area, Central Java, Indonesia, Journal of Fossil Research, 42(1), 1–11.

Sobolik, K.D. & Steele, D.G., 1996, A Turtle Atlas to Facilitate Archaeological Identification, pp. 1–3; 4; 27, Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, Inc., South Dakota.

Valente, A.L.S., 2007, Diagnostic Imaging of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta
caretta), Thesis, Universitas Autonoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra.

Wyneken, J., Godfrey, M.H. & Bels, V., 2008, Biology of Turtles, CRC Press, Boca Raton.


Article Metrics

Abstract views : 4157 | views : 2858


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Journal of Tropical Biodiversity and Biotechnology

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Editoral address:

Faculty of Biology, UGM

Jl. Teknika Selatan, Sekip Utara, Yogyakarta, 55281, Indonesia

ISSN: 2540-9581 (online)