Image Credit: Photograph by Chris Van Wyck (Zoological Society of London)
The green-haired Mary River turtle placed No. 29 on the Zoological Society of London’s Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered Species reptiles list released Wednesday. The list takes not only a species’ extinction risk into account, but also how one-of-a-kind its genetic makeup is.
The Mary River turtle lives only in the freshwaters of the Mary River in Queensland, Australia—hence, the name.
The turtle can survive up to three days underwater thanks to gill-like glands on its cloaca, the reptile-equivalent of an ass except that it is also used to reproduce. (Yeah, I know: weird.)
I’d say that alone makes this endemic species pretty metal—even without the green mohawk. That results from algae attaching itself to the critter’s body.
Unfortunately, its badass appearance isn’t enough to keep our girl Mary safe: Since the 1970s, the population has been dropping dramatically. This began even before the species became official in 1994.
The animal can’t breed until it reaches 25 years of age.
Man-made dams are messing everything up for the punk princess, ruining water quality and reducing the amount of prime habitat. So has theft: People used to steal the turtle’s eggs to sell into the commercial pet industry.
All this is preventing enough turtles from reaching sexual maturity to increase population numbers.
“If we lose these species, there will be nothing like them left on Earth,” said Rikki Gumbs, who worked on the reptile list, to The Sun.
That’s for sure. We’ve seen goth chickens, but there’s nothing quite like the Mary River turtle. Maybe it’s more punk than anything else, but knowing how awful this turtle’s had it is making me feel pretty emo.