An Australian river turtle with a green punk-rock hairdo, two spikes under his chin, and the ability to breathe through his genitals (yep, you read that correctly) is now on the endangered reptiles list. Native to Queensland, Australia, this amazing turtle has the "unusual ability to breathe underwater through specialized glands in its cloaca -- a posterior opening for excretion and reproduction" has earned him the nickname of "butt breather." This biological function allows the turtle to stay underwater for up to three days! So what's up with the green mohawk? It's not really hair at all but, rather, a buildup of algae on his head from spending so much time underwater. Hair or not, it makes him look really cool and hip!
Rikki Gumbs, a reptile biologist at the Zoological Society London (ZSL), told CNN news that because of the exotic pet trade of the 1960's and 70's were often kept as pets and were already at risk of becoming endangered by the time they were recognized as a species in the 1990's. It takes 25-30 years for them to reach a reproduction age. Add that to their significant loss from the pet trade, it's easy to see why their numbers are in decline. They come in at number 29 on the ZSL's list of Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered Creatures. the top spot on that list goes to the big-headed turtle of Madagascar.
Both freshwater and sea turtles are under pressure worldwide. Sea turtles have lived for over 100 million years and are now considered to be endangered. I mean, how sad and awful is that??? They are relying on the work of conservationists to keep them from becoming extinct over the next 50 years.
Although I enjoy reading and sharing interesting stories about the different and unusual critters I stumble across, it is heartbreaking to know that so many of them can become extinct within the foreseeable future. I hope that by shining a light on these amazing animals, it'll somehow help to save them. The world will be a lot less beautiful, diverse, and toad-ally hip without them. It is my wish that humans will do whatever they can to preserve these species. Until tomorrow, I wish you all
Now excuse my while I go for a swim with my new BFF!