Featured Image for Australia’s punk-rock ‘butt-breathing’ turtles are now endangered

Australia’s punk-rock ‘butt-breathing’ turtles are now endangered

Queensland, Australia’s native Mary River turtle has made the list. No, not the ‘best hairstyle’ list, but rather, the endangered species list.

The unusual-looking turtle is known for its punk-rock hairstyle made from algae, which it gets by staying submerged underwater for as long as three days without surfacing for air. It can do so because it can breathe through its cloaca, an orifice that’s basically the anus, genitalia, and urethra all in one.

Unfortunately, the so-called ‘butt breather’ is facing extinction due to its signature look. Since the ‘70s, exotic pet traders have been taking these beautiful creatures from their habitat, severely cutting down their population.

The Mary River turtle

Just recently, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) included the turtle in their Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) list for reptiles.

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

The Mary River turtle

Aside from the Mary River turtle, other reptiles in the list include the top-ranked Madagascar big-headed turtle, the leatherback, and South Asia’s gharial – a species of crocodile believed to have 250 individuals remaining.

“Just as with tigers, rhinos and elephants, it is vital we do our utmost to save these unique and too often overlooked animals,” added Gumbs.

“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. If we lose these species there will be nothing like them left on Earth.”


About the author

Inigo is a writer and graphic designer from Manila, Philippines. He is a soldier of love who will carry you on his strong back of awesomeness when the zombie apocalypse arrives.

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