The Amazonian red side-necked turtle Rhynemis rufipes is an endemic Amazonian Chelidae species that occurs in small streams throughout Colombia and Brazil river basins. Little is known about various biological aspects of this species, including its sex determination strategies. Among chelids, the greatest karyotype diversity is found in the Neotropical species, with several 2n configurations, including cases of triploidy. Here, we investigate the karyotype of Rhinemys rufipes by applying combined conventional and molecular cytogenetic procedures. This allowed us to discover a genetic sex-determining mechanism that shares an ancestral micro XY sex chromosome system. This ancient micro XY system recruited distinct repeat motifs before it diverged from several South America and Australasian species. We propose that such a system dates back to the earliest lineages of the chelid species before the split of South America and Australasian lineages.