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Australian punk turtle classified as endangered reptile

Australia’s Mary River turtle, sometimes sporting a punk-like ridge of algae, has joined the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) list of threatened reptiles, which also includes many lizards and snakes.

This turtle, whose scientific name is Elusor macrurus, lives in the Australian state of Queensland and in particular in the waters of the Mary River. It is “very special,” the ZSL said in a statement, adding 100 new reptile species to its EDGE list this week, created in 2007. The Mary River turtle has organs called cloacae, which it uses not only to urinate or lay its eggs, but also to breathe underwater through its skin.

“This turtle is able to stay underwater for a very long time – up to three days – without coming back to the surface, thanks to this strange ability to breathe through its hindquarters,” Rikki Gumbs of Imperial College London, who participated in the EDGE list, told AFP.

“Some pretty impressive cuts.”

Another peculiarity of the species is that some individuals are found sporting a fluorescent green crest, actually algae.

“The Mary River turtle spends so much time submerged underwater that some end up covered in algae and can end up with some pretty impressive cuts!” enthuses Rikki Gumbs […]

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