New Species Of Turtle Discovered - And It's Already Critically Endangered

A new species of turtle, complete with a pig-like snoot and a spotted squishy shell, has been identified in the swampy waters of central Vietnam and Hainan Island in China. Unfortunately, the new species is already listed as "critically endangered" – nice one, humans.

It was long assumed that the Chinese Softshell Turtles all belonged to the same species, however, over the past few decades, scientists realized that these creatures were actually numerous different species.

Now, they've identified yet another. Reporting in the journal ZooKeys, an international team of researchers has carried out tests that identify a fifth species in the genus, the Spotted Softshell Turtle (Pelodiscus variegatus), noted for its unique spots on the underside of its belly. Crucially, DNA analysis showed the individuals were genetically distinct enough to be defined as a new species.

"Some years ago we started to investigate whether all ‘Chinese softshells’ are indeed the same species, and during the course of our research it turned out that there are several unrecognized species,” lead author Professor Uwe Fritz of the Senckenberg Natural History Collections in Dresden told IFLScience.

“The new one is the most beautiful one with its nice spots.”

Fritz suspects that further analysis of Chinese softshell turtles will reveal even more new species hidden in the genus. "More new species to come!" he said.

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