Why some turtles breathe through their butts

June 17, 2014 6:08 PM

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Why some turtles breathe through their butts

Until recently, however, scientists didn't really know why some turtles -- most notably Australian Fitzroy river turtle and the North American eastern painted turtle -- took in air through the back end. Chalk it up to another one of nature's cruel but hilarious jokes.

The turtles in question hibernate for an extended part of the winter in frigid waters, sometimes for as long as five months. That requires a lot of breathing underwater. Unfortunately, a turtle's shell -- the product of ribs and vertebrae that slowly flattened out and fused together over time -- is ...

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