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PHOTOS: Elusor Macrurus AKA the Mary River Turtle Is on the Endangered Species List

The Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus) is an endangered short-necked turtle that inhabits the Mary River in South-East Queensland, Australia. This individual is a small juvenile. This species is currently listed as endangered under Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1992, and under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

A pink snake that looks just like a worm, a bright-turquoise gecko, and a green-mohawked turtle that breathes through its behind — odds are you’ve never seen them, and according to a new list of “rare and cryptic” critically endangered reptiles, unless action is taken to preserve their habitats, you never will.

The Zoological Society of London in April released a list of the 100 most Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (Edge) reptiles which, according to the Edge website, “have few close relatives on the tree of life and are often extremely unusual in the way they look, live and behave, as well as their genetic make-up.”

Perhaps most extraordinary in appearance — and beloved in the media this month — is No. 29 on the list: Elusor macrurus, the Mary River turtle. Found only in the Mary River in Queensland, Australia, the reptile features what look like stalactites sprouting from its chin, along with long strands of green algae on its head reminiscent of a mohawk, or perhaps a troll-doll hairdo.

Although it sports notably large nostrils, scientists have discovered it actually breathes through a gill-like mechanism inside its cloaca. In short, it breathes through its butt, not its nose.

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    Kat Merck is a freelance writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. An amateur naturalist who stud... keep reading