softshell turtle

variants: or soft-shelled turtle or softshell

Definition of softshell turtle

: any of numerous freshwater carnivorous turtles of the family Trionychidae having sharp claws, mandibles, a flat, oval, or nearly round shell covered with soft leathery skin instead of with horny plates, a narrow head, nostrils at the end of a fleshy proboscis, and feet broadly webbed with but three claws and living in parts of Africa, Asia, and North America, including the whole Mississippi valley, the Great lakes, and many southern rivers

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