'Punk' turtle that breathes through its genitals added to endangered list

Madagascan big-headed turtle

Remarkably, this turtle was kept as a pet in Australia for more than 20 years before its formal description as a new species. With its punk-rock hair and ability to breathe through the genitals, the "punk turtle" is certainly one of a kind. "From the world's largest sea turtles to a blind species of snake found only in Madagascar, the diversity of EDGE Reptiles is breath-taking". Now the spotlight has turned to reptiles, resulting in a list of the top 100 conservation priorities for a class of animals that includes turtles, crocodilians, snakes and lizards.

"Parts of the Mary River catchment have been cleared and heavily grazed, and on these reaches of the river, the turtle is threatened by the effects of increased runoff, siltation and pollution", the Queensland agency said. Its scientific name is actually Elusor macrurus.

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.

Among other things, some of these turtles even have incredibly long tails, which grows up to 70 percent longer than their shells at times, while a few others have a weird green hairdo.

A Mary River Turtle looks on in Queensland, Australia, in this 2008 photo obtained from social media.

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"The Mary River Turtle spends so much time submerged underwater that some individuals become covered in algae-and can end up with some pretty impressive bright green hairstyles!" Mary River turtles don't breed until they are 25.

Turtles that breathe through their genitals and chameleons the size of a human thumbnail are amongst the weird and wonderful reptiles heading for extinction unless urgent action is taken, according to the latest ranking from global conservation charity ZSL's (Zoological Society of London) pioneering EDGE of Existence programme.

The destruction of the natural habitat through the building of dams, soil erosion, and water and soil pollution and the collection of the eggs for the pet trade also contributed to the turtle's survival pressure.

In an interview with The Guardian the co-ordinator of Edge reptiles, Rikki Gumbs explained how reptiles tend to be overlooked in comparison to birds and mammals when it comes to conservation. Many EDGE Reptiles are the sole survivors of ancient lineages, whose branches of the Tree of Life stretch back to the age of the dinosaurs.

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