Chelidae (snake-necked turtles; order Chelonia, suborder Pleurodira) A family of freshwater turtles in which the head and neck may be longer than the carapace. The neck vertebrae fold only sideways. The turtles' diet is mixed. Chelus fimbriatus (matamata), which inhabits stagnant pools in tropical S. America, has a large and flattened head with nostrils at the end of a slender proboscis, a long neck, and a carapace up to 45 cm long, with three ridges and covered with small knobs; small prey are rapidly sucked into the large mouth cavity. There are 31 species in the family, occurring in S. America, Australia, and New Guinea.
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