Punk Turtle Added To Endangered Species List

Posted: Apr 15 2018, 3:18am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 16 2018, 12:28am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Punk Turtle Added to Endangered Species List
The Australian Mary River turtle with punk hairdo

The odd-looking turtle is the latest to join the ZSL's "EDGE of Existence" list of endangered species

An Australian turtle that has a green, punk hairstyle and an ability to breathe through its backside is certainly one of the most distinctive reptiles in the world. But unfortunately, the numbers of this creature are declining rapidly and have already dropped to such an extent that it has to be added to the endangered species list.

The odd-looking turtle is native to Australia and found only in the Mary River of Queensland from which it took its name. Very little is known about the ecology and behavior of Mary River turtle. However, it is considered one of the largest turtles found in Australia and has green spiky hair on its head due to the growth of algae. Because of its unusual appearance, the turtle used to be a popular pet in Australia during the 1970s and 80s.

Mary River turtle breathe through specialized glands in butt organs known as cloaca and can stay underwater up to three days.

“They have specialized organs in their cloaca which process oxygen from the surrounding water,” said Rikki Gumbs from Imperial College London. “The Mary River Turtle spends so much time submerged underwater that some individuals become covered in algae – and can end up with some pretty impressive bright green hairstyles.”

Mary River turtle was recognized as a separate, distinct species in 1994. But its population declined dramatically over the years because of the destruction of its habitat and the collection of its eggs for the pet trade. The late sexual maturity also damaged the recovery of the species.

“The turtle takes a long time to reach sexual maturity, taking up to 25 to 30 years. As their vulnerability was discovered late, we lost a whole generation due to the pet trade and now their population has become very small.” Rikki Gumbs told CNN.

Mary River turtle is one of 100 reptiles added to the "EDGE of Existence" list of endangered species compiled by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). It ranks 29th on the first list of its kind for reptiles.

"Reptiles often receive the short end of the stick in conservation terms, compared with the likes of birds and mammals," said Gumbs. "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."

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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