The common snapping turtle has a large head with a strong beak instead of teeth. The edges of the jaws have sharp edges to rip apart food. The squamosal meets the postorbital bone in the skull, but doesn't meet the parietal. The maxilla bone and quadratojugal also don't meet. The stapes is enclosed by the quadrate bone. This turtle does not have a secondary palate in the roof of the mouth. The vertebrae help create the carapace and then extend into opisthocoelous caudal vertebrae of the long tail. This long tail is armored by the dermal scales. The carapace has laterally reduced pleurals, 11 peripleurals, and long rib-like processes on the nuchal. The plastron is reduced and joined to the carapace by ligaments. The shell is covered by dermal scutes that create a horny armor on the turtle shell. This is caused by the cornification of the epidermis. The pelvis does not completely meet until the later adult stage is reached. There is a wide separation in the pubic and ischiadic symphyses. Due to the common snapping turtle being aquatic most of the time, its feet are webbed and have four or five claws on each foot.
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