Rare softshell turtles found in Cambodia

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Cambodian conservationists have discovered one of the world’s largest and least studied freshwater turtles in the Mekong River.

The discovery by the Cambodian Turtle Conservation Team — in collaboration with Conservation International, the World Wildlife Fund and the Cambodian Fisheries Administration — raises hopes the threatened species can be saved from extinction.

Researchers said a 24.2-pound female Cantor’s giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) was captured and released during a March survey.

“This incredible discovery means a unique turtle can be saved from disappearing from our planet,” said David Emmett, a Conservation International wildlife biologist.

Instead of an exterior shell commonly associated with turtles, the Cantor’s giant softshell turtle has a rubbery skin with its ribs fused together to form a protective layer over its internal organs.

The turtle can extend its neck with lightning speed to bite with jaws powerful enough to crush bone.

“It has the fastest strike of any animal I’ve ever seen, including cobras,” Emmett said.

The turtles, which can grow up to 6-feet in length and weigh more than 110 pounds, are classified as endangered.

Source: Science Daily