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One of the largest freshwater turtles in the world, the alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is a prehistoric-looking species with a reputation as the ‘dinosaur of the turtle world'. It has a camouflaged, ridged upper shell (carapace), a large head and powerful, hooked, beak-like jaws, which, together with its thick, scaly skin and oversized claws, all contribute to its primitive look and set it apart from other freshwater turtles. The three large, pronounced ridges running down the length of the dark brown to blackish shell somewhat resemble those on the back of an alligator, and earn the species its common name. The shell also often has algae growing on it, which adds to the snapping turtle’s camouflage. The tail is almost as long as the shell itself and, together with the chin, throat and neck, is coated with long, pointed tubercles. The alligator snapping turtle has an unusual way of luring prey; the tongue contains a small, pink, worm-like projection (lure), which is grey at rest but suffused with blood when active, and is wriggled to attract prey into the turtle’s mouth.




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