Family - Trionychoidea (Softshelled Turtles)

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Members of the family Trionychoidea are called "soft shelled" because their carapace lacks horny scutes, though the Spiny Softshell Turtle, Apalone spinifera, does have some scale-like projections, hence its name. The carapace is leathery and pliable, particularly at the sides. The central part of the carapace has a layer of solid bone beneath it, as in other turtles, but this is absent at the outer edges. Some species also have dermal bones in the plastron, but these are not attached to the bones of the shell. The light and flexible shell of these turtles allows them to move more easily in open water, or in muddy lake bottoms.