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Big-Headed Turtle: Platysternidae

Physical Characteristics

The family Platysternidae has only one member, the bigheaded turtle, which has the scientific name Platysternon megacephalum. This small to medium-sized turtle is most known for its huge head, which is about half as wide as the upper shell. The head is shaped like a triangle and covered with a single, large, hard scale, known as a scute (SCOOT). The upper shell, or carapace (KARE-a-pays), is quite flat and sometimes has a single ridge running down the middle from front to back. The carapace is yellow to dark-brown and may have a pattern on it. A few big-headed turtles have red or pink markings on the carapace. Like that of many other turtles, the lower shell, or plastron (PLAS-trun), of the big-headed turtle is yellow and covers most of the underside. Unlike those of many other turtles, the upper and lower shells of the big-headed turtle are not connected by a bony bridge, but by softer, more flexible tissue, called ligaments (LIH-guh-ments). The upper jaw, also known as the beak, comes to a sharp point in the front. The big-headed turtle has a scaly tail that is nearly as long as the upper shell. The feet have obvious claws and just a bit of webbing between the toes. Turtle size is measured by the length of the carapace. The carapace length of the big-headed turtle reaches about 8 inches (20 centimeters). Males and females are similar, but the males have a more indented plastron.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesBig-Headed Turtle: Platysternidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, BIG-HEADED TURTLES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS