Punk’s not dead. It’s just endangered.
Mary River Turtles, which rock a green mohawk made of algae, have been endangered since 1992. Let’s just say they’re no sex pistols — the amphibians take 25 years to reaching mating age. Because of their long threatened status, however, the species just landed on a new line-up: the London Zoological Society’s “Edge List,” which not only considers how many animals are left in the world but how biologically and evolutionarily rare they are.
The turtles, for example, can stay underwater for up to three days thanks to gill-like organs in its cloaca, the glands it uses to excrete and mate. Those unique abilities, plus its killer looks and chill disposition, made the turtle a fad pet during the 1960s and 1970s. Their nests were over-raided to be sold as pets, leading to their endangered status.
The turtles, native to Queensland, Australia, rank thirtieth on the new Edge List, largely because the species diverged evolutionarily from its closest-known relative some 40 million years ago. For reference, humans split from chimps about 8 million years ago.
It’s not clear how many are left in the world, but … God save the Queensland turtle.
Also on the Edge List are some of the weirdest animals close to extinction: a pig-nosed turtle; a turtle with a head so big it can’t retract it into its own shell; a blind snake that looks like a worm; and a minuscule chameleon. Topping the list is a platypus-like critter called the Attenborough’s Long-beaked Echidna, which is one of only two mammals known to lay eggs.
“To me, I absolutely love every one of them,” Rikki Gumbs, a PhD candidate at the University College of London and the London Zoological Society told VICE News. “There are even more threatened and more remarkable species than that turtle, and we have active efforts ongoing to save them.”
Gumbs’ personal favorite, though, is the Round Island keel-scaled boa. It’s the only snake that can change color within the course of a day and has a unique hinged upper jaw. Although it’s called a “boa,” the snake technically isn’t one: The species split off evolutionarily from all other snakes some 65 million years ago.