Mary River Turtle: Rare 'Butt-Breathing' Reptile Joins Endangered Species List


You can find this turtle in the Mary river in Queensland, Australia.

The 40 cm-long water turtle boasts of wide nostrils, finger-like structures under its chin and literally breathes through its backside, making up something you have never seen or heard of. To let it go extinct would be a huge mistake and failure of the humankind.

But the Mary River Turtle might just be the strangest of them all.

Driving the turtle's endangered status are environmental and human factors, the ZSL found, with the Mary River turtle taking up to 25 years to breed, an exceptionally long time for a species to maintain a healthy population.

It is also now officially among the most endangered.

This unusual turtle is one of several species of cloaca-breathing turtles, which breathe underwater using specialised glands in their reproductive organs.

The Mary River turtle is on the brink of extinctionThis Mary River turtle has a rather fetching punk hairdo made of green algae.

Edge also cites the building dams, as well as jerks who collect the turtle's eggs for the pet trade as reasons for the stark population decline, which has been happening since the 1970s.

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The Mary River Turtle lives in well-oxygenated, flowing sections of streams.

The EDGE of Existence program highlights and protects some of the most unique and wonderful species on the planet and has already added creatures like a blind snake, limbless lizard, and world's largest sea turtle to its list.

The Mary River turtle is able to breathe through its bum thanks to gill-like organs in its cloaca.

"Parts of the Mary River catchment have been cleared and heavily grazed, and on these reaches of the river, the turtle is threatened by the effects of increased runoff, siltation and pollution", the Queensland agency said.

Academic research was hampered in 1974 when traders refused to reveal the habitat of what were then known as "Penny Turtles" after Australia outlawed the practice of keeping them as pets.

A Sydney-based turtle enthusiast found the Mary River turtle in a discovery that led to it being classified as a new species. They survived millions of years and to see them go extinct now would be a awful shame.

Top of the list is one of the turtle's cousins, the Madagascan big-headed turtle (Erymnochelys madagascariensis), the most likely to die out of any amphibian, bird or mammal.