Temporal range: Late Cretaceous - recent, 84.9–0 Ma
Apalone spinifera.jpg
Spiny softshell turtle, Apalone spinifera
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Trionychidae
Subfamily: Trionychinae
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 of turtles in the family Trionychidae. Species of Apalone are native to North America.

Geographic range

Most Apalone species are restricted to the United States, though the range of the spiny softshell, A. spinifera, extends into 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. They are still listed as Trionyx in some texts. (Trionyx now refers specifically to certain softshell species found mainly in Africa.)

Sexual dimorphism

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 turtles 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.


The following three species are recognized as being valid.[4]

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Apalone.


  1. ^ Fritz, Uwe; Havaš, Peter (2007). Checklist of Chelonians of the World. Dresden: Museum für Tierkunde Dresden.
  2. ^ Meylan PA (1987). "The phylogenetic relationships of soft-shelled turtles (family Trionychidae)". Bull. American Mus. Nat. Hist. 186: 1-101.
  3. ^ Smith HM, Brodie ED Jr (1982). Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (SOFTSHELL TURTLES—family Trionychidae, p. 30).
  4. ^ "Apalone ". The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.

Further reading