You read that right, this green haired turtle that can breathe through its butt is an incredibly unique species but sadly it is on the brink of extinction. The Mary River turtle (Elusor macrurus) is no ordinary turtle, this 40cm-long turtle has wide nostrils, chin "fingers" and even sports a green algae mohawk on occasion. The newly endangered Mary River turtle can only be found on the Mary River in Queensland, Australia.
<img src="https://media.8ch.net/file_store/1cf4ecf49cc6472f52c83403e3bba4c6a51d377aaac0785a01e7305facdfb2e0.jpg" style="max-height:640px;max-width:360px;">
<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Chris Van Wyk | Flickr</span>
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The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has now ranked the Mary River turtle 29th on the world's most vulnerable reptile species list. The co-ordinator of ZSL's Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (Edge) list for reptiles Rikki Gumbs said, "Reptiles often receive the short end of the stick in conservation terms, compared with the likes of birds and mammals. The Edge reptiles list highlights just how unique, vulnerable and amazing these creatures really are."
Sadly, it is the turtle's unique looks that got it on the endangered species list. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Mary River turtle was an extremely popular pet. Every year for a decade humans raided the Mary River for over 15,000 hatchlings driving the species to the brink of extinction. It is now up to humans to keep the beautiful species alive. "Just as with tigers, rhinos, and elephants, it is vital we do our utmost to save these unique and too often overlooked animals," Gumbs said.
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"Many Edge reptiles are the sole survivors of ancient lineages, whose branches of the tree of life stretch back to the age of the dinosaurs," he added. The Mary River turtle is unlike any other species of turtle because it diverged from modern turtles about 40 million years ago. The species has tons of unique features that set it apart from modern turtles, such as its super long tail which can grow up to 70% longer than its shell or finger-like tubercles under its chin for feeling around the river bed.
Oh, and this turtle can breathe through its butt when its underwater. A set of gill-like structures near its back-end allow it to breathe oxygen while underwater for up to 72 hours at a time. Gumbs said, "If we lose these species there will be nothing like them left on Earth."
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