Institut für Biologie der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg


Date of this Version


Document Type



Erforschung biologischer Ressourcen der Mongolei (2012) band 12: 213-218. Results of the Mongolian-German Biological Expeditions since 1962, No. 317.


Copyright 2012, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle Wittenberg, Halle (Saale). Used by permission.


Although no extant native turtle and tortoise species is known to occur in Mongolia, a new subspecies of the Central Asian tortoise was described by Chkhikvadze under the name Agrionemys kazachstanica terbishi in 2009. The description was based on a mummified tortoise kept in a museum collection. Since then the Mongolian steppe tortoise has been considered as an endemic taxon Testudo horsfieldii terbishi (Chkhikvadze, 2009) for Mongolia.

However, there is no evidence for the occurrence of any wild tortoise species in Mongolia, even in the putative area of origin of the type specimen. The closest confirmed occurrence of Central Asian steppe tortoises is about 500 km away from Mongolia. Moreover, since 2010 the type specimen disappeared from the museum collection. Yet, there are several clues that the specimen in question was brought from Kazakhstan about 10 years ago to live as a pet in a yurt of a Mongolian nomadic family. Therefore, the recently described subspecies should be regarded as a “nomen dubium” and T. horsfieldii should be deleted from the faunal list of Mongolia.