A turtle with a permanent smile on its face now has good reason for its happy expression as it has been saved from near extinction.
The Burmese roofed turtle has bulging eyes as well as its upturned lips and measures up to two foot long when fully grown. A turtle with a permanent smile on its face now has good reason for its happy expression as it has been saved from near extinction.
Scientists chanced across two remnant populations of the animal in the wild while on field surveys.
These were located in the Dokhtawady and upper Chindwin Rivers and the individuals formed a last ditch breeding programme to save the species.
Steven G. Platt, a herpetologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, led the campaign to set up the breeding programme.
Females of the species are larger than the males and can grow to be larger than a car steering wheel, while the males undergo a startling colour change during the breeding season.
Normally, their heads are green, but when they are trying to breed, their heads turn more yellow with startling black markings.
A new study has now been able to describe and photograph hatchlings of this little-known river turtle for the first time.
“Although historically widespread and apparently abundant, long-term population declines resulted from chronic egg collecting, subsistence harvesting of adults, and loss of critical nesting habitat,” the researchers, including Dr Platt, write in their paper.