© Finger Lakes Images– Bill Banaszewski 
© Mark Lethaby
Habitat: wide range, extending throughout much of the United States, as well as north into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and south into the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila and Chihuahua
Status: Least Concern

This species, the Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera) was first described by  Charles Alexandre Lesueur in 1827. I can only imagine what this guy was thinking when he found a turtle with this bizarre-o shell. I actually used to have one of these guys as a pet when I was younger and I remember its ‘soft shell’ wasn’t so soft. It actually felt more like sand paper. But I get the jist of where the name came from (obvs). 
One curious aspect about this creature is that unlike with most other turtle species, the sex of hatchlings isn’t determined by changes in temperature, but rather by genetics. Females can lay around 9 – 38 round eggs at a time. Ugh. Sounds rough – not soft! HAhaaaa…lame.
And here’s a baby Spiny Softshell taking its first look at the world (talk about overwhelming!):