57.9 MB (9.3 MB compressed)
5579 x 3626 pixels
47.2 x 30.7 cm ⏐ 18.6 x 12.1 in (300dpi)
DANTE FENOLIO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DANTE FENOLIO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The snake-necked turtles of the neotropics include the Mata Mata (Chelus fimbriata). Everything about this turtle is strange. The shell is rough and covered with knobs. The wide and flat neck is longer than the spine in the shell. The many tubercles and fringes on the neck and head serve to disguise the turtle as a component of rotting leaves on the floor of slow moving or still waterways. The skin folds and protuberances also contain nerves that help the turtle detect motion around it in the water column. The head is triangular with flaps of skin completing the leaf-like look. These turtles can't pull their necks all the way into their shells like some other turtles; rather, they form an s curve with their long necks and bring their heads in close to their bodies. The Mata Matas eyes are smaller than most turtles and are close to the elongate snout that forms a snorkel. They use the structure to minimize the amount of motion they enact such that they can sit with the snorkel.
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