The Genus Cuora (Gray 1855):

The genus Cuora is comprised of 13 species, many of which also include two or more subspecies, and exhibit an aquatic to terrestrial behavior depending on each species/subspecies. The genus ranges between longitude 33N in China to 10S in Indonesia, and latitude 90E in Bhutan to 130E in the far east of the Moluccas - a rather large range but also within the most densely populated region of this planet.

John Edward Gray described this Genus in 1856. The derivatio nominis has been long-speculated, some believing it is derived from the  italian "Cuore" (hearth shaped or mud), but this is not the case. Cuora is in fact derived from the Indonesian term for Turtle - "Kura". "Kura-Kura" is a local name for Cuora amboinensis, and this is what Leschenault heard when he visited Java back in 1804 and collected the type specimen of Cuora amboinensis couro, described by Schweigger in 1812. Leschenault mentioned the name "Kouro" in his manuscript, and Gray subsequently referred to the "Cuoro" in his 1855 Description of the genus as the "English" name for Cuora amboinensis.

Similar in appearance to American box turtles of the genus Terrapene, Cuora spp. have a hinge on the plastron - the bottom shell - allowing them to close up tightly and protect against predators. The resemblances between Terrapene and Cuora both in morphology and habitats are remarkable, despite each genus occupying two completely different hemispheres and families (Geoemydidae in the case of Cuora).

Unfortunately, those hinged shells did not protect Cuora against humans.

Of the top 25+ most endangered turtle and tortoise species on the planet, as determined  by scientists in the Tortoise and Freshwater Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 10 out of  13 Cuora species are listed as being at risk of extinction. These turtles are coveted both as pets and ingredients in traditional medicine in China, claimed to be able to cure cancer, and they have been harvested and/or poached to the point of near-extinction in every East Asian country.

Cuora amboinensis

Cuora amboinensis

Cuora aurocapitata

Cuora aurocapitata

Cuora bourreti

Cuora bourreti

Cuora cyclornata

Cuora cyclornata

Cuora flavomarginata

Cuora flavomarginata

Cuora galbinifrons

Cuora galbinifrons

Cuora.org

Cuora.org

Cuora mccordi

Cuora mccordi

Cuora mouhotii

Cuora mouhotii

Cuora pani

Cuora pani

Cuora picturata

Cuora picturata

Cuora trifasciata

Cuora trifasciata

Cuora yunnanensis

Cuora yunnanensis

Cuora zhoui

Cuora zhoui

Cuora Hybrids

Cuora Hybrids

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