Alligator snapping turtles, not one species but three

This video from Tennessee in the USA is called Wild SideTV-Alligator Snapping Turtles.

From Wildlife Extra:

The alligator snapping turtle is not one species but three

The threatened alligator snapping turtle is not just one species but three, scientists from Florida and the University of Vermont have discovered.

By examining museum specimens and wild turtles, the scientists uncovered deep evolutionary divisions in this ancient reptile that caused them to split into different species millions years ago.

“We found a surprising result: these really deep divisions between each river,” says Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont. “Unlike common snappers, these turtles do not move from river to river; they’re isolated and have been for millions of years, through many glacial ages.”

The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle is found in Florida and Georgia, and lives only in the Suwannee River and, say the scientists, has been a distinct species for at least five million years. The Apalachicola alligator snapping turtle lives in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama — in and around the Apalachicola River — and developed as an independent species at least three million years ago. While turtles from the Apalachicola and other panhandle rivers in Florida, Georgia and Alabama are now the Apalachicola alligator snapping turtle.

The scientists have notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the discovery and that federal protection is urgently needed to protect these turtles, who face threats from water pollution and over-collection for food and the pet trade.

“This new study shows the extremely rare alligator snapping turtle is even rarer than we thought,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center biologist and lawyer focused on protecting reptiles and amphibians. “If we don’t act quickly to protect these dinosaurs of the turtle world, they, too, could go extinct.”

Alligator snapping turtles are the largest river turtles in North America, weighing in at up to 200 pounds and living almost a century.

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9 thoughts on “Alligator snapping turtles, not one species but three

  1. Fascinating. I had never heard of the Alligator snapping turtle until I read this piece. It is good to learn something new 🙂 thank you, Kitty


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