New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Newly discovered turtle species is facing extinction

Date:
February 13, 2019
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
A new species in the family of Softshell Turtles is described from Northern Vietnam and China by a Hungarian-Vietnamese-German team of researchers. The newly discovered reptile has a distinctly blotched shell and is so critically endangered that it is close to extinction.
Share:
FULL STORY

For decades, it has been assumed that the Chinese Softshell Turtles from East Asia all belonged to one and the same species, Pelodiscus sinensis. Widely distributed all the way from the Russian Far East through the Korean Peninsula to China and Vietnam, the species was said to vary substantially in terms of its looks across localities. However, around the turn of the century, following a series of taxonomic debates, scientists revalidated or discovered a total of three species distinct from the 'original'.

Recently, a Hungarian-Vietnamese-German team of researchers described a fifth species in the genus. Their discovery is published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

The new species, which differs both genetically and morphologically from the other four, has well-pronounced dark blotches on the underside of its shell. The markings are also the reason why these turtles are going by the scientific name Pelodiscus variegatus, where "variegatus" translates to "spotted" in Latin.

"This morphological feature, among others, led to the discovery that these animals belong to a hitherto undescribed species," explains Professor Dr. Uwe Fritz of the Senckenberg Natural History Collections in Dresden.

Unfortunately, the identification of multiple species within what used to be a single one has its potentially ill-fated consequences. While the Chinese Softshell Turtle was once considered widespread and not threatened, each newly discovered species "reduces" the individual population numbers.

"When we look at each species, the distribution range as well as the number of individuals is much smaller than when all were combined. Until now, the newly described Spotted Softshell Turtle was considered part of the Lesser Chinese Softshell Turtle Pelodiscus parviformis, which was discovered by Chinese researchers in 1997. Pelodiscus parviformis was already considered critically endangered. Now that its southern representatives have been assigned to a different species, the Spotted Softshell Turtle, the overall population size of each species is even smaller," explains Balázs Farkas, the study's Hungarian lead author.

Because of its restricted range and the levels of exploitation it is subjected to, the conservation status of the new species is proposed to be Critically Endangered, according to the criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Balázs Farkas, Thomas Ziegler, Cuong The Pham, An Vinh Ong, Uwe Fritz. A new species of Pelodiscus from northeastern Indochina (Testudines, Trionychidae). ZooKeys, 2019; 824: 71 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.824.31376

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "Newly discovered turtle species is facing extinction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190213090809.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2019, February 13). Newly discovered turtle species is facing extinction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 29, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190213090809.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "Newly discovered turtle species is facing extinction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190213090809.htm (accessed May 29, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily

RELATED STORIES