matamata turtleimage credit: Ann McLeod Images
matamata turtleimage credit: True_Bavarian
matamata turtleimage credit: stuart oxford
image credit:
matamata turtleimage credit: Dawn on the Amazon
matamata turtleimage credit: umpbump
Habitat: South America, primarily in the Amazon & Orinoco basins
Status: No conservation concerns

Let me introduce you to an incredibly bizarre looking creature: the Matamata Turtle (Chelus fimbriata). It grows to around 18 inches in length with a very rough, horny shell that features laminas (knobby plates) that have well-marked growth rings on them. Its gorgeous head has many warts, growths, and ridges all over it. The flaps of skin on the side of its face are very sensitive to the currents generated by fish swimming nearby, which is why its forward facing eyes aren’t the primary means of catching its prey.

It’s name, translated from Spanish, means “to kill, to kill.” Cheery huh?

The creature hides at the bottom of the river, camouflaged by a thin sheet of algae that grows over its shell. The capacity of its mouth is almost astonishing so passing fish beware!