New species of tortoise on the verge of extinction

New species of tortoise on the verge of extinction

"The yellow-grey carapace of this turtle species, which is about 23 centimeters long, has very striking markings with coarse green-black spots. Among other things, this morphological peculiarity revealed the animals as a previously undescribed species," explained uwe fritz of the senckenberg natural history collections in dresden. Unlike most turtles, soft-shelled turtles do not have a hard horn-covered shell, but a flexible leathery carapace.

According to fritz, the chinese soft-shelled red has long been thought to be a single widespread species that occurs from eastern siberia to vietnam. "The closer we look, however, the more species are hiding under the previous name pelodiscus sinensis. The new species we have described, pelodiscus variegatus, is already the fifth species of this genus," explained the professor.

With each new species described, the individual populations and also the coarseness of the distribution areas are reduced. The spotted turtle is threatened by the destruction of its habitat and by fishing, he continued. Soft turtles are a part of the east asian cuisine, he says. In northern vietnam, a foreign species had apparently also been introduced that could compete with the spotted soft-shelled turtle and possibly drive it out.

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