The Mary River Turtle, or the “Penny Turtle” (Elusor macrurus) can be found in the Mary River in South-East Queensland, Australia. This mohawked friend was once very popular in the 1960’s but are currently an endangered species.
This species of turtle is the last of it’s genus, decending from a very long line of ancestors of Australia.
These turtles have reached a length of 50 cm, are very elongated, and beautifully patterned. An interesting fact is, that their irises can commonly be found to be blue. (see pic below)
These turtles are amazing, as they use bimodal respiration, able to absorb oxygen through both the cloaca (posterior opening) or from the surface. This feature allows the turtle to stay under water for longer rates of time.
Another unique feature of these turtles, is the fact that the tail can be founs almost 2/3 the length of the carapace (dorsal surface). It has a feature that can not be found in any other modern turtles, haemal arches on the tail (unknown function, but interesting nonetheless).
You may also notice his cute little “goatees” hanging off his chin. These barbels are used for searching for food, and act as taste buds in the water.
Not to mention, these cuties are considered to be one of the fastest swimmers, due to the smallest head in proportion to its large hind feet.
Efforts are being made in Australia, as they were listed in the Queenland’s Nature Conservation Act in 1992, and are currently beung protected under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, also since 1992.
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