800px-Chelodina expansa
Physical description
HabitatFreshwater lakes, rivers and streams
Lifespan70 - 100 years
Average Size10 inches (26 cm) - 2 feet (60 cm)
Average weight1.5 pounds(1 kg) - 10 pounds (5.2 kg)
Scientific classification
Distribution of speciesAustralia, New Guinea and Indonesia.

This large and diverse genus of long-necked Chelid turtles has had a complicated nomenclatural history.[1] Although in the past the following have been considered separate genera and prior to that all the same, they are now considered sub-genera of the one genus.[1]

Chelodina is an ancient group of Chelid turtles native to Australia, New Guinea and the island of Rote Island of the Indonesian archepeligo. The turtles within this subgenus are small to medium sized, with oval shaped carapace. They are side-necked turtles, meaning they tuck their head partially around the side of their body when threatened instead of directly backwards.

Macrochelodina represents those species that have often been termed the Chelodina B group, or thick necked snake neck turtles. The sub-genus was described in 1985 by Wells & Wellington (as a new genus) but was not recognized until recently when it was shown that the name was valid. As such they are a side-neck turtle of the family Chelidae with extremely long necks and long flattened heads. They are specialist fish eaters using a strike and gape mode of feeding. They are medium to large species with the largest Chelodina M. expansa reaching shell lengths of some 45 cm.[2] The first fossils (C. M. alanrixi) are known from Queensland from the Eocene period (Lapparent de Broin, F. de, & Molnar, R. E., 2001)[3].

Macrodiremys is a monotypic genus recently split off from the rest of the Chelodina.[4] Its sole member is the enigmatic Chelodina Macrodiremys colliei from Western Australia.


Current taxonomy follows that of Georges & Thomson, 2010[1]

Subgenus: Chelodina Fitzinger, 1826

Subgenus: Macrochelodina Wells & Wellington, 1985[5]

Subgenus: Macrodiremys (McCord & Joseph-Uoni 2007)[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Georges, A. & Thomson, S. 2010. Diversity of Australasian freshwater turtles, with an annotated synonymy and keys to species. Zootaxa 2496: 1–37.
  2. Macrochelodina expansa (Grey, 1856) - Broad-Shelled Turtle
  3. Lapparent de Broin, F. de, & Molnar, R. E., 2001: Eocene chelid turtles from Redbank Plains, Southeast Queensland, Australia. Geodiversitas: Vol. 23, #1, pp. 41-79
  4. 4.0 4.1 McCord, W.P. & Joseph-Uoni, M., 2007, A New Genus of Australian Longneck Turtle (Testudines: Chelidae) and a New Species of Macrochelodina from the Kimberley Region of Western Australia (Australia. Reptilia, 31, 56–64.
  5. Wells, R.W. and Wellington, C.R. 1985. A classification of the amphibia and reptilia of Australia. Australian Journal of Herpetology, Supplementary Series. 1:1-61.
  6. Thomson S., Kennett R. and Georges A. (2000). A new species of long necked turtle (Chelidae:Chelodina) from the sandstone plateau of Arnhem Land, Northern Australia. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 3:675-685.
  7. Ogilby, J.B. 1890. Description of a new Australian tortoise. Records of the Australian Museum 1:56-59.