The yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle or yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) is one of the largest South American river turtles. It can grow up to 45 cm long and weigh up to 8 kg. This species can be recognized by its black or brown oval carapace (upper shell) with distinctive low keels on the second and third scutes. Yellow spots on the side of its head give this species its common name. These spots are most prominent in juveniles and fade with age. Females can be up to twice the size of males.
Podocnemis unifilis is a type of side-necked turtles, so called because they do not pull their heads directly into their shells, but rather bend their necks sideways to tuck their heads under the rim of their shells. Side-neck turtles are classified as members of the suborder Pleurodira.
Podocnemis unifilis was one of the foreign species exploited by the American pet turtle trade in the 1960s. This species are at risk of predation by humans, birds, snakes, large fish, frogs and mammals. Importation of this species is now strictly regulated by Federal law, but a captive, self-sustaining population exists in the United States—some groups in zoos, others in the hands of private collectors. Individuals of this species have lived more than 30 years in captivity.