Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Carettochelyidae

Genus/species: Carettochelys insculpta

Pignose Turtle aka Fly River Turtle Carettochelys insculpta (Carettochelyidae) Pig-nose Turtles IMG_1388

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Length ave. 46 cm (18 inches). Weight ave. 22 kg (49 lbs). Pitted, leathery,gray-green carapace and a white plastron. Limbs are clawed and paddlelike. Short head terminating in a broad, tubular, “piglike” snout. Carapaces of juveniles have serrated perimeters and a central keel. They have flat, broad limbs that have two claws each, with their enlarged pectoral flippers having a similar appearance to those of sea turtles.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Southern New Guinea and Kimberly Plateau of Australia in shallow, slow-moving rivers, lagoons, lakes and swamps with sandy or silty bottoms. Also in estuaries. Active nocturnally. Emerges from water only in order to nest.

DIET IN THE WILD: Opportunistic omnivores. Principal food is the fruits of shoreline trees. Eat other plant material: leaves, flowers that fall into river from banks, and aquatic algae. Also take insect larvae, mollusks and crustaceans. Scavenge fishes and mammals as carrion.

PREDATORS: Water monitors and humans. Eggs and adults taken for food by Papua New Guineans. Australian aborigines eat adults of this species. Have been reported to live 38.4 years in captivity.

REPRODUCTION: Oviparous laying two clutches of eggs, every two years. Males never come out of the water and females only come out when they are about to lay eggs. They don’t return to land until the next nesting season.

CONSERVATION: Vulnerable by the IUCN due to overharvest as a food source.

REMARKS: The only freshwater turtle to have limbs modified into flippers and swim via synchronous forelimb motions that resemble dorsoventral flapping, that evolved independently from their presence in sea turtles.

Secretive animals. Use forelimbs to burrow by scooping sand substrate over their carapace. Adults may thermoregulate underwater by lying over small thermal springs. Only extant species in its family.

 pignose-turtle-aka-fly-river-turtle- IMG_0316

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