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Apalone spinifera.jpg
Spiny softshell turtle, Apalone spinifera
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Trionychidae
Genus: Apalone
Rafinesque, 1832

3 recognized species, see article.


Mesodeca Rafinesque, 1832
Platypeltis Fitzinger, 1835
Glalypeltis Cope, 1860 (ex errore)
Callinia Gray, 1869
Euamyda Stejneger, 1944
Platyrettis Kirsch, 1944 (ex errore)[1]

Apalone is a genus in the Trionychidae family of turtles. They are native to North America, where they are the only extant softshell turtles.

Geographic range[edit]

Apalone species are native primarily to the United States, though they are also found in parts of southern Canada and northern Mexico.


Apalone is a fairly new classification, resurrected by Meylan in 1987,[2] assigned to North American species of the genus Trionyx, though they are still listed as Trionyx in some texts. (Trionyx now refers specifically to certain softshell species found mainly in Africa.)

Sexual dimorphism[edit]

Turtles of the genus Apalone exhibit marked sexual dimorphism. In carapace length, females grow to about twice the size of males. In males, the claws on the front feet are longer than those on the back feet, but in females, the claws on the back feet are longer. In males, the stout tail extends well beyond the posterior edge of the carapace, but in females, the relatively thinner tail barely reaches the edge of the carapace.[3]


Apalone are fast swimmers that chase down their prey in water. They feed mainly on fish. They also like the comfort of sand as their bedding.



  1. ^ Fritz, Uwe and Havaš, Peter. 2007. Checklist of Chelonians of the World. Museum für Tierkunde Dresden. Dresden.
  2. ^ Meylan, P.A. 1987. The phylogenetic relationships of soft-shelled turtles (family Trionychidae). Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 186:1-101.
  3. ^ Smith, H.M. and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Golden Press. New York. 240 pp. (SOFTSHELL TURTLES—family Trionychidae, p. 30.)

External links[edit]