A mata mata (Chelus fimbriatus) is a freshwater turtle that inhabits the Amazon and Orinoco basins in South America. The bizarre turtles are entirely aquatic, although they prefer shallow, stagnant water, where they can easily reach their head out of water to breathe.
The mata mata can grow quite large, up to 33 pounds (15 kilograms). They feed on invertebrates and fish and aren’t dangerous to people, despite their appearance.
Mata mata are fairly sensitive to water quality, both in captivity and in the wild, so they can be harmed by pollutants.
Photograph by Alessandro Mancini, Alamy