Eugene S. Gaffney

Eugene S. Gaffney is an American paleontologist and leading authority on the evolutionary history of turtles.


He graduated from Rutgers State University in 1965 and received his PhD in 1969 with a thesis on "The North American Baenoidea and the Cryptodire-Pleurodire Dichotomy" from Columbia University, where he also taught for several years. He then moved to the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, becoming full Curator in 1980, a position he still holds. He has authored numerous publications on turtle systematics and phylogeny.[1]

Dr. Gaffney pioneered the use of cladistics in turtle research.[2] He has done fieldwork in Canada and the United States, central Europe, southern Africa, China, Argentina, Brazil, and especially Australia, where he has studied the evolution of the Meiolania, the giant horned tortoise.[3]


The Gaffney Turtle Symposium on fossil turtles was held in his honor at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, in 2009.[4][5]

Several species of fossil turtles, including the protostegid sea turtle, Santanachelys gaffneyi, Gaffneylania auricularis,[6] and the Macrobaenid Aurorachelys gaffneyi[7] have also been named in his honor.

Selected publications

  • Gaffney, E. S. (1975). A phylogeny and classification of the higher categories of turtles. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 155(5): 389-436. on-line
  • Gaffney, E. S. (1979). The Jurassic turtles of North America. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 162 (3): 91-136.
  • Gaffney, E. S. (1979). An introduction to the logic of phylogeny reconstruction. In J. Cracraft and N. Eldredge (editors), Phylogenetic analysis and paleontology: 79-111. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Gaffney, E. S. (1980). Phylogenetic relationships of the major groups of amniotes. In A. L. Panchen (editor), The terrestrial environment and the origin of land vertebrates: 593-610. London, New York: Academic Press.
  • Gaffney, E. S., & P. A. Meylan. (1988). A phylogeny of turtles. In M. J. Benton, (editor), The phylogeny and classification of tetrapods: 157-219. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Gaffney, E. S. (1990). Dinosaurs A Golden Guide. Western Publishing Company, Inc. 160 pp.
  • Norell, M. A., Gaffney, E. S., & Dingus, L. (1995). Discovering Dinosaurs in the American Museum of Natural History. Alfred A. Knopf, 204 pp.
  • Gaffney, E. S. (1996) The postcranial morphology of Meiolania platyceps and a review of the Meiolaniidae. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History ; no. 229 on-line
  • Gaffney, E. S., Tong, H., & Meylan, P. A. (2006) Evolution of the side-necked turtles : the families Bothremydidae, Euraxemydidae, and Araripemydidae. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, no. 300 on-line
  • Gaffney, Eugene S.; Peter A. Meylan; Roger C. Wood; Elwyn Simons, and Diogenes De Almeida Campos. 2011. Evolution of the side-necked turtles: the family Podocnemididae. AMNH Bulletin 350. 1–237. Accessed 2017-08-15.


  1. Q.V. and full list of publications
  2. Eugene S. Gaffney, (1975). A phylogeny and classification of the higher categories of turtles. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 155(5): 389-436.
  3. Eugene S. Gaffney - American Museum of Natural History
  4. Royal Tyrrell Museum: Gaffney Turtle Symposium. Retrieved September 14, 2010
  5. Gaffney Turtle Symposium, Abstracts and Program. Compiled by D.R. Braman. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Alberta, October 17–18, 2009
  6. Gaffneylania auricularis at
  7. Deborah Vandermark, John A. Tarduno, Donald B. Brinkman, Rory D. Cottrell and Stephanie Mason, (2009). New Late Cretaceous macrobaenid turtle with Asian affinities from the High Canadian Arctic: Dispersal via ice-free polar routes. Geology February 2009 v. 37 no. 2 p. 183-186 abstract
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