Friday, 7 June 2013

Meet the Ultra Punk-Rock Mary River Turtle That’s Battling Extinction

In 1994, scientists first identified the Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus) as a new genus and species of freshwater turtle. However, it was promptly put on the endangered species list and still remains there to this day. In fact, it’s listed as one of the world’s top 25 most endangered turtle species. It’s now only found in a single river in Australia, the Mary River.

The Mary River Turtle is endangered due to years of pillaging nest sites in the 1960′s and 70′s, when these turtles were big in the pet trade in Australia. Over 15,000 hatchlings were sent to shops every year during a ten year period. It might have been popular for its unique appearance and docile nature.

Elusor is a monotypic genus representing a very old lineage of turtles that has all but disappeared from the evolutionary history of Australia (via wikipedia). This means that the turtle has a number of characteristics that are no longer found in modern day turtles. For one, it has a very long and thick tail (hah…ha.) that can be up to 70% the length of its shell.

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