Temporal range: Early Jurassic--Present, 190-0 Ma
|Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea)|
Cryptoderes Duméril and Bibron, 1834
Cryptodira (Greek: hidden neck) is a suborder of Testudines that includes most living tortoises and turtles. Cryptodira differ from Pleurodira (side-neck turtles) in that they lower their necks and pull the heads straight back into the shells, instead of folding their necks sideways along the body under the shells' marginals. They include among their species freshwater turtles, snapping turtles, tortoises, soft-shell turtles, and sea turtles.
Cryptodires evolved during the Jurassic period, and by the end of the Jurassic had almost completely replaced pleurodires in the lakes and rivers, while beginning to develop land-based species. Meanwhile, pleurodires became the dominant freshwater testudines in the Cretaceous to Eocene of Europe, and produced a family of marine species, the Bothremydidae.
The Cryptodira suborder has three living superfamilies, the Chelonioidea (sea turtles), Testudinoidea (tortoises and pond turtles), and Trionychoidea (soft-shell turtles and relatives). The families within the Kinosternoidea are now recognized as a paraphyletic assemblage of mostly primitive Trionychoidea; they do not form a natural group.
Two circumscriptions of the Cryptodira are commonly found. One is used here; it includes a number of primitive extinct lineages known only from fossils, as well as the Eucryptodira. These are, in turn, made up from some very basal groups, and the Centrocryptodira contain the prehistoric relatives of the living cryptodires, as well as the latter, which are collectively called Polycryptodira.
The alternate concept restricts the use of the term "Cryptodira" to the crown clade (i.e. Polycryptodira). The Cryptodira as understood here are called Cryptodiramorpha in this view.
As per the system used here, the Cryptodira can be classified as: