Threatened: A Green-Haired Turtle That Can Breathe Through Its Genitals

13 Abril, 2018, 06:24 | Author: Enrique Watson
  • The Round Island keel-scaled boa

This is the Mary River Turtle, and it is now my spirit animal. It has a smooth, streamlined, tiresome and unpatterned shell and dark eyes.

But (t), that's not the oddest thing about this turtle - that distinction goes to its respiratory system.

Already on the Queensland Endangered Species List, the Mary River turtle is notable because it is a cloacal ventilator, which means it breathes oxygen using special glands in the orifice used for reproduction and excretion.

They might look punkish, but don't let the appearance fool you - they're actually very docile creatures, which have traditionally been kept as pets (however, males can't be kept together because they're very aggressive to each other and remain separate in the wild). In the 1960s and 1970s, juvenile turtles were collected and sold as "penny turtles", which effectively wiped out a generation of the turtles that are slow to mature sexually and typically don't reproduce until they are 25 years old. By one account, their numbers are down 95% from the historic baseline.

Otherwise known as the Mary River turtle because it is endemic to the Mary River in eastern Queensland, Australia, the Elusor macrurus was ranked No. 30 on the EDGE of Extinction list compiled by the conservation group ZSL for the London Zoological Society of London.

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Top of the list is the Madagascar big-headed turtle, which has an Edge score higher than that of any other amphibian, bird or mammal, and is still taken for food and global trade.

Rikki Gumbs, co-ordinator of Edge reptiles, said: "Reptiles often receive the short end of the stick in conservation terms, compared with the likes of birds and mammals".

The turtle comes in at No. 29 on the first list of its kind for reptiles, ZSL's register of Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered creatures.

He added: "Just as with tigers, rhinos and elephants, it is vital we do our utmost to save these unique and too often overlooked animals. Many EDGE reptiles are the sole survivors of ancient lineages". "If we lose these species there will be nothing like them left on Earth", Gumbs added.

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