Fossils indicate that earth’s first turtles could not withdraw their heads into their shells. Instead they tucked their heads to one side, as the taricaya turtle still does. These creatures eat meat but also chomp on fruits and seeds, which they can reach during the high waters of rainy season.
They are solitary nesters and lay approximately 30–50 eggs, which have been an important source of protein for Peru’s Amazon natives. Thanks to programs in Reserva Nacional Pacaya Samiria, they have been brought back from the edge of extinction in some parts of Peru, though they remain common along the Madre de Dios and Manu Rivers.<
Look for groups of this aquatic turtle, stacked on top of each other like fallen dominos, on logs jutting from the water. They sun themselves in order to increase body temperature and probably also to eliminate the buildup of algae on their carapaces.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition