In this paper, we describe a new species of a giant tortoise, Cheirogaster bacharidisi, sp. nov., from the Pliocene (Gonia Formation) of western Chalkidiki Peninsula, near Thessaloniki, Greece. The specimens constitute the most complete giant tortoise found to date in Greece, and provide materials for direct comparison with other described European forms. We assign it to the genus Cheirogaster, as opposed to Centrochelys, based upon the convex dorsal surface of the epiplastron. Direct comparison with material from Europe shows that it differs from other giant tortoises attributed to Cheirogaster mainly in cranial and plastral morphology. Exceptional postcranial preservation allows the description of many skeletal elements, previously unknown or poorly described for Cheirogaster, as well as for a reappraisal of the previously published specimens from Greece.
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Vol. 34 • No. 3