Turtle that can breathe out its butt almost extinct

December 15, 2014 2:54 PM

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The days of the white-throated snapping turtle (Elseya albagula) appear to be numbered, according to the Australian government, which has recently declared them critically endangered. If that isn't attention-grabbing enough, consider that the animal prompted a biologist to talk like this: "These turtles breathe out of their ass, which is super awesome." That's James Cook University researcher Jason Schaffer, who's spent eight years studying the turtles in a habitat where dams, agriculture, and predation are making it increasingly difficult for them to survive, reports Scientific America.

One of Australia's largest freshwater turtle species—which can live to 100—the white-throated snapping turtles do indeed possess an unusual skill: cloacal respiration, by which they extract oxygen from water via their back sides, reports James Cook University.

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