Genetic research has discovered a new research turtle belonging to the genus Chelus, with a strange appearance and unusual hunting

The discovery of a new species of Mata Mata leaf turtle by scientists at the Senckenberg Institute for Biological Research in Germany is an exciting development in the field of biology. This elusive turtle, belonging to the genus Chelus, was identified through genetic analysis and showcases unique characteristics in both appearance and hunting behavior.

Measuring up to 53 cm in length and resembling a rock covered with green algae when hidden in the mud, the Mata Mata turtle exhibits a fascinating hunting strategy. Using its nose to create suction, it swiftly captures prey that ventures too close, engulfing it whole.

Professor Uwe Fritz, from the Senckenberg Institute, highlights the peculiar appearance and hunting behavior of this newly discovered species. With limited genetic information available, the identification of this distinct turtle species sheds light on the biodiversity of the region.

Mata Mata leaf turtle has a strange shape.

Genetic analysis using 75 DNA samples revealed significant differences between the new species and the previously known leaf turtle, Chelus Fimbriata. The new species inhabits the Orinoco basins in South America and Río Negro in Argentina, while its counterpart is confined to the Amazon basin.

The research suggests that the separation of the two species occurred during the Miocene epoch, around 13 million years ago, coinciding with the divergence of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. This separation led to the genetic differentiation of various aquatic species, including the Mata Mata leaf turtle.

Despite the new species not being considered threatened with extinction like its counterpart, ongoing research aims to further understand its habitat preferences, behavior, and reproductive biology. This continued investigation will provide valuable insights into the ecology and conservation of this fascinating turtle species.

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