Turtle with green mohawk faces extinction

The “punk” turtle living in the Mary River in Australia, only a few years after being discovered is already on the road to extinction. The Mary river turtle, the one with the green “mohawk” hair formed by algae, has special organs in its cloaca that allow it to draw oxygen from the water. It can stay underwater for up to three days!

But this particular turtle is thirtieth on a new list of reptiles in trouble put out by the Zoological Society of London. The Edge of Existence program at the society looks at the evolutionary trees of animals that are endangered to determine which are most evolutionary distinctive.

Rikki Gumbs, a reptile biologist at Zoological Society London (ZSL), told CNN that because of the exotic pet trade in the 1960s and ’70s, the turtles were often kept as pets and were already at risk of being endangered when they were first recognized as a species in the 1990s.

“The turtle takes a long time to reach sexual maturity, taking up to 25 to 30 years,” he said. “As their vulnerability was discovered late, we lost a whole generation due to the pet trade and now their population has become very small.”