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Central American River Turtle: Dermatemydidae

Physical Characteristics

The only living Central American river turtle, which has the scientific name Dermatemys mawii, is a large animal with a small head and a pointy snout. It has a dark-colored, somewhat flat upper shell, or carapace (KARE-a-pays). The carapace of adults is thick, heavy, and smooth. It is so smooth that is almost looks like it is made of leather. The yellow- or cream-colored lower shell, or plastron (PLAS-trun), is large, as is the bony bridge that connects the upper and lower shells. The feet are webbed. Females and males look similar, but females are generally larger. In addition, the upper surface of a male's head has a large yellowish gold patch, while females as well as juveniles (JOO-vuhnuhl), or the young, have gray on the top of the head. The biggest Central American river turtles can weigh as much as 49 pounds (22 kilograms) and have a carapace as long as 26 inches (66 centimeters).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesCentral American River Turtle: Dermatemydidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Central American River Turtles And People - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS