Monday, April 06, 2015

MATAMATA: Stealth and Craftiness

The most unusual Turtle in the world is Matamata, who lives in the Amazon and Orinoco River Systems of South America. Instead of looking like a typical Turtle, He resembles a pile of debris. When a Fish nibbles on the fibrous parts of Matamata’s head, He springs into action. Expanding his huge mouth, He vacuums up the unfortunate Fish. Expelling the excess water, Matamata then swallows Fish whole.

Having a sedentary but predatory way of life on muddy river bottoms is reflected in his unusual features. Matamata has a snorkel for a nose and leaf-like skin flaps covering his head and neck. His powerful back supports his neck to enable Him to vacuum up his prey. (Matamata belongs to the Side- Necked Turtle Family (Pleurodira).) With his sixth sense, He detects water vibrations. Living at the bottom of dark waterways, Matamata never basks in the sun like other Turtles.

In their various languages, the Amazon Indians refer to Matamata as “I Kill”. Blending with his surroundings, Matamata waits for an unsuspecting Fish to swim by. He remains still as Fish snacks on his head. Suddenly without notice, He will suck the surprised Fish up into his mouth. In other times, Matamata will herd Fish into a pen. A poor swimmer, He walks along the bottom of the muddy water herding the Fish. When He finally corners the Fish, Matamata vacuums Them up.

Matamata uses stealth and cunning to catch Fish. Looking like a pile of leaves, He deceives a Fish into thinking He is a tasty snack. Matamata quietly waits for the unwary Fish to start nibbling. Springing to life, He sucks the stunned Fish into his mouth. Learn how to be crafty from Matamata.

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