There are two big takeaways from this story. First, there is a turtle out there who has a green mohawk and breathes through its genitals. Second, there’s a sad reality that might not exist much longer. It’s called the Mary River Turtle and it is unsurprisingly found in the Mary River of Queensland. Its trademark green mohawk is actually algae that grow on the docile reptile’s body. Meanwhile, it’s cloaca, the hole that works for both excretion and reproduction on birds and reptiles, is also capable of respiration. That means it has to smell its own butt whenever it takes a breath.
The Mary River Turtle’s problems began when they became popular pets in the 60’s and 70’s. Their docile nature made them easy prey for collectors and pet merchants. As a result, the turtle is now placed 30th on ZSL’s Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (Edge) list for reptiles. #1 on the list currently goes to the Madagascar big-headed turtle, which is still being hunted for its meat and shell.
Rikki Gumbs, co-ordinator of Edge reptiles, had this to say about the punk rock reptile:
“Reptiles often receive the short end of the stick in conservation terms, compared with the likes of birds and mammals. However, the Edge reptiles list highlights just how unique, vulnerable and amazing these creatures really are. 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, whose branches of the tree of life stretching back to the age of the dinosaurs. If we lose these species there will be nothing like them left on Earth.”