Wonder turtle from Down Under
SYDNEY: Australia’s Mary River Turtle – with its green Mohican-style hair and ability to breathe through its genitals – is one of the world’s most distinctive reptiles.
It’s now officially among the most endangered. The “punk turtle” has been ranked 29th on the Zoological Society of London’s Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered list, triggering calls for better protection of the reptile found on Australia’s east coast.
“You have to go back about 50 million years to find a closely related species,” said Marilyn Connell of Australia’s Charles Darwin University. “It would be a failure if we let this animal that walked alongside dinosaurs become extinct.”
Once a popular pet in Australia, the exact population of the turtle is unknown, the zoological society said. Its distinctive hairdo consists of strands of algae that grow on its head.
Research was hampered in 1974 when traders refused to reveal the habitat of what were known as “Penny Turtles” after Australia outlawed the practice of keeping them as pets. Nearly 20 years later, turtle enthusiast John Cann rediscovered them in the Mary River in Queensland.
“They survived in good numbers for millions of years. Then came the pigs and foxes, and on top the native predators and people,” he said. – Reuters
The striking Mary River Turtle found in Queensland, Australia.