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Podocnemis unifilis 1.jpg
Yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Pleurodira
Family: Podocnemididae
Extant genera

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The Podocnemididae are a family of turtles native to Madagascar and northern South America. They are side-necked turtles (Pleurodira), which means they do not retract their heads backwards, but hide them sideways. These turtles are all aquatic, inhabiting streams and other flowing water. Their shells are streamlined to aid in swimming.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The Podocnemididae have been united with their closest living relatives, the Pelomedusidae, under the latter name, with both groups being treated as subfamilies. Under that scheme, the present group is named Podocnemidinae. Some authors still maintain this classification,[1] but here it is preferred to keep them distinct families in the superfamily Pelomedusoidea instead.

The family Podocnemididae contains only three living genera, two of them monotypic:

The family also contains a number of prehistoric genera, including Albertwoodemys, Bairdemys, Bauruemys, Brontochelys, Caninemys, Cordichelys, Dacquemys, Lapparentemys, Latentemys, Lemurchelys, Mogharemys, Neochelys, Papoulemys, Peiropemys, Pricemys, Shweboemys, Stereogenys, Turkanemys, Cambaremys, Carbonemys, Cerrejonemys, Kenyemys, Roxochelys and Stupendemys.[2] Stupendemys lived around 5.5 million years ago in northern South America, and was the largest freshwater turtle and the largest pleurodire known to date.


  1. ^ Fritz Jürgen Obst (1998). "Pelomedusinae". In H. G. Cogger & R. G. Zweifel. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 112–113. ISBN 0-12-178560-2. 
  2. ^ Eugene S. Gaffney, Peter A. Meylan, Roger C. Wood, Elwyn Simons & Diogenes De Almeida Campos (2011). "Evolution of the Side-Necked Turtles: The Family Podocnemididae". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 350: 1–237. doi:10.1206/350.1. 

External links[edit]