Butt-breathing turtle faces extinction

Queensland coastline where the Mary River turtle lives

Butt-breathing turtle faces extinction

The turtle has been ranked 29th on the Zoological Society of London's Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered list, triggering calls for better protection of the reptile found in a remote part of Australia's east coast.

An Australian river turtle with a distinctive green punk-rock hairstyle, two spikes under its chin and the ability to breathe through its genitals is on a new list of endangered reptiles.

The list is unique in not only considering extinction threat, but also how evolutionarily unique a species is. This distinctive reptile is found in the Mary River in south-east Queensland, Australia.

The turtle's habitat is not fully protected, Cann said, and the introduction of new fish species to the waterway also threatened juvenile turtles.

The inventory has no shortage of weird and wonderful creatures-a limbless lizard, the world's largest sea turtle, a blind snake, and a chameleon named after Tarzan.

The Mary River turtle can remain underwater for up to three days by breathing through special glands in an orifice used for reproduction and excretion.

A reptile biologist says the pet trade led to the loss of an entire generation of Mary river turtles.

ZSL's list provides wildlife scientists worldwide with a "scientifically rigorous way of focusing their conservation efforts on those animals that effectively represent their own distinct branches of the Tree of Life", the organization noted in a press release.

The turtle, which measures up to 40 cm, lives in just one location - the Mary River in Queensland, Australia.

The Mary River turtle is on the brink of extinctionThis Mary River turtle has a rather fetching punk hairdo made of green algae. Unfortunately, like all good things, it is now one of the most endangered species on Earth.

Rikki Gumbs, who co-ordinates the list, said: "Reptiles often receive the short end of the stick in conservation terms, compared with the likes of birds and mammals".

Gumbs adds: "Just as with tigers, rhinos and elephants, it is vital we do our utmost to save these unique and too often overlooked animals".

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

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