Graptemys geographica Lesueur
Common name: map turtle

Pictured here is Charles-Alexandre Lesueur's drawing of a turtle he first described for science. Lesueur was one of the scientists who lived and worked in New Harmony, Indiana, having moved there from Philadelphia on the "Boatload of Knowledge" with William Maclure in 1826.

The drawing and description are published in

C. A. Le Sueuer, "An account of an American species of Tortoise, not noticed in the systems," Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 1 (1817) 86-88.

Lesueur gives the name Testudo geographica, with common name Lake Erie Tortoise. "In the summer of the year 1816," writes Lesueur, "I discovered in a marsh, on the borders of Lake Erie, a Tortoise, which I have reason to believe is a nondescript."

Lesueur then gives an anatomical description, including a reason for the adjective "geographic":

The stripes or markings on the disk, presenting the appearance of a geographical map, gave rise to the trivial name which I have bestowed on this Tortoise. A more particular description is not thought necessary, as the figure accompanying this article will convey a better idea of the animal than can be given by any verbal detail.
Shown here is the image of a map turtle from

Carl H. Ernst and Roger W. Barbour, Turtles of the United States, The University Press of Kentucky, 1972.

Used by permission.

Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, naturalist and artist
New Harmony Scientists, Educators, Writers & Artists
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