This turtle has an olive coloured shell which measures 40-50cm in length and is flat with rough dorsal scutes. The marginal scutes have a serrated edge. The plastron is small and cross-shaped with a very narrow, yellow or chestnut-coloured bridge. The head is large and covered with diverse spine-like protuberances, three of which are elongated on the chin. Bill-shaped snout with powerful jaws and 1 to 3 pairs of tactile sub-mandibular barbels, the first pair much longer than the others.
Robust, semi-webbed feet, claws, very long and thick tail, with a series of protruding points and scales. Posterior extremities longer than the front ones, with developed inter-digital membranes and thick, long nails. They have 5 toes on the front extremities and 4 on the back ones.