Genital-breathing 'punk turtle' joins endangered species list

The Mary River turtle's signature green mohawk is the result of vertically-growing algae that sprout from its head and body. It also has bizarre barbels that jut from its chin. And it has gill-like organs within its cloaca – a multi-purpose orifice use

Remarkably, this turtle was kept as a pet in Australia for more than 20 years before its formal description as a new species.

Already on the Queensland Endangered Species List, the Mary River turtle is notable because it is a cloacal ventilator, which means it breathes oxygen using special glands in the orifice used for reproduction and excretion. But, none of these reptiles behave like Mary River.

An Australian river turtle with what looks like a punk-rock hairstyle is on a new list of endangered reptiles.

In addition, it sports face furniture in the form of long fleshy barbels under its chin.

This ability accounts for these creatures having the vibrant green mohawk caused by algae growing on their heads due to the extended amount of time they spend submerged in the water.

This odd turtle is one of several species of cloaca-breathing turtles, which breathe underwater using specialised glands in their reproductive organs. This looks pretty fascinating but is actually the work of algae.

The rebellious fashion choice of the Mary river turtle has caught the attention of netizens.

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A native of Queensland, Australia, the turtle was one of 100 reptiles added to the catalogue this week.

Almost half a century ago, people fascinated by the weird turtle started keeping it as a pet.

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.

This, combined with the creature's slow pace to reach sexual maturity and natural habitat destruction, triggered a massive decline in their numbers.

"Reptiles often receive the short end of the stick in conservation terms, compared with the likes of birds and mammals", Rikki Gumbs said "Just as with tigers, rhinos and elephants, it is vital we do our utmost to save these unique and too often overlooked animals. Many EDGE reptiles are the sole survivors of ancient lineages". "If we lose these species there will be nothing like them left on Earth".

Commenting on the publication of the EDGE Reptiles ranking, ZSL's EDGE of Existence Programme Manager Dr Nisha Owen said: "When EDGE launched in 2007, our vision was to shine a light on those species that, if they were allowed to go extinct, would effectively take an entire branch of the Tree of Life with them".

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