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Posts Tagged "turtles"

Extinction Countdown

Genetic Tests Reveal 10 Previously Unknown African Terrapin Species

african helmeted terrapin

Imagine living underground for six years waiting for water. That might seem like a challenge, but it’s just a normal part of the life cycle for the African helmeted terrapin. These common side-necked turtles, which bend their necks to the side until their heads are protected by one leg and an overhang of their shell, [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Sea Turtle Hatchlings Saved by LED Lights Funded by Deepwater Horizon Fines

leatherback hatchling

A sea turtle’s life begins in darkness. After about 60 days of incubation inside their eggs, turtle hatchlings use a temporary tooth called a caruncle to break out of their shells. That’s just step one. At this point, they are still buried in nests about 50 centimeters below the beach surface. As dozens of baby [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Alligator Snapping Turtles, the Dinosaurs of the Turtle World, Are Actually 3 at-Risk Species

alligator snapping turtle

Alligator snapping turtles look pretty intimidating. These massive, prehistoric-looking reptiles can reach more than 66 centimeters in length and weigh more than 100 kilograms. Add in their unusual ridged carapaces, finger-long claws and sharp, beaklike mouths and you’ve got an impressive package. But in truth, alligator snapping turtles aren’t all that aggressive. They tend to [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Massacred Elephants, Found Frogs and Other Links from the Brink

Dzanga Bai elephants

Elephants, turtles, grizzly bears and some of the world’s rarest frogs are among the endangered species in the news this week. Worst News of the Week: Armed gunmen entered the Dzanga Bai World Heritage Site in the violence-plagued Central African Republic this week and slaughtered at least 26 elephants. The site is known as the [...]

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Extinction Countdown

How Poachers Stole 10 Percent of an Entire Tortoise Species…and What Happened Next

ploughshare tortoise

On Friday, March 15, authorities in Thailand intercepted two wildlife smugglers trying to carry hundreds of endangered tortoises through Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Among the animals recovered were 54 critically endangered ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) from Madagascar. The entire wild population for this species is estimated at just 400 to 600 tortoises, meaning this seizure represented [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Links from the Brink (March 30, 2013)

slender loris

Ivory smugglers, manatees, Iranian cheetahs, slow lorises and Britain’s beloved hedgehogs are in the news this week. Ethics and Endangered Species: A new study accuses wildlife photographers of unethical behavior when it comes to the slender loris (either Loris tardigradus or L. lydekkerianus). The photographers reportedly convinced tribesmen (who consider the species to be taboo) [...]

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Extinction Countdown

5 Turtles from Nearly Extinct Species Fly Home to Hong Kong

golden coin turtles

Asia’s turtles and tortoises are in an extinction crisis. Few species embody that more than the critically endangered golden coin turtle (Cuora trifasciata), which is so valued in the illegal pet trade and for its use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that a single specimen can fetch $25,000 or more on the black market. The [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Satellites to Track Rare Royal Turtle in Cambodia [Video]

A member of one of the world’s most endangered turtle species is being tracked by satellites as it swims the rivers of Cambodia, helping scientists to learn more about how it navigates and the threats it faces in its native waters. With a satellite transmitter glued to her shell, the female southern river terrapin (Batagur [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Do PCBs Still Threaten Humans? A Turtle Study Suggests They Might

Decades after polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—once commonly used in pesticides, electrical transformers and coolants—were banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the toxic chemicals continue to linger in our country’s soil and water. A new study shows how exposure to these PCBs can weaken turtle bone and shell density and suggests they could also continue to [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Enormous, Endangered, Epileptic Loggerhead Turtle Gets MRI Brain Scan

loggerhead turtle

How do you find out why a 1.5-meter-long endangered sea turtle is having epileptic fits? The first step is to find an MRI machine big enough to accommodate her not-so-ladylike girth. On June 25, “Snorkel,” a 68-kilogram loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), traveled more than 500 kilometers from her home at National Marine Aquarium (NMA) [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Musk turtles and mud turtles: look boring, are secretly hyper-diverse

At top: Common musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus), image by Laurent Lebois (licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license). At bottom: Oaxaca mud turtle (Kinosternon oaxacae), image by Vicente Mata Silva (licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license).

In a further effort to relieve Turtle Guilt (see the previous turtle-themed Tet Zoo article), I give you the following article devoted wholly to kinosternids, an exclusively American group of about 25 species of seemingly mundane and unspectacular turtles. Kinosternidae includes turtles that go by two common names: musk turtles (Sternotherus) and mud turtles (Kinosternon)… [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Turtles that eat bone, rocks and soil, and turtles that mine

Jason-Noble-snapper-2-600-px-tiny-April-2014-Tetrapod-Zoology

I have had extensive turtle guilt of late – that is, there just haven’t been enough turtles on Tet Zoo for a while… by which I mean, there haven’t been any. But fortune smiles on the thing that it smiles on, and a few neat photos have recently fallen into my proverbial lap, encouraging me [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

A very quick history of turtles

And all of this will be elaborated on, in time: this was meant to be the briefest and simplest of introductions.  For previous Tet Zoo articles on turtles, see… Hard-shelled sea turtles and a diet of glass Gilbert White’s pet tortoise, and what is ‘grey literature’ anyway? Giant African softshells – wow! Giraffe-necked giant tortoises [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Terrifying sex organs of male turtles

Of the many unlikeable and inaccurate stereotypes maintained about animals in popular consciousness, among the most frustrating is what I term “old man turtle”. This is the idea that turtles (by which I mean, all members of Testudines) are like decrepit, weak, bony little old men housed inside a box. It’s not fair, and it’s [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

In case you forget, softshell turtles are insanely weird

I wanted to use this photo because it’s weird and interesting, not because I have anything particularly insightful to say about softshell turtles. The animal shown here is a Florida softshell Apalone ferox that I photographed in captivity earlier in 2011. Turtles of many kinds look odd when they adopt resting or basking poses; this [...]

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