Rare ‘smiling’ turtle ‘resurrected’ in just 20 years

Rare ‘smiling’ turtle ‘resurrected’ in just 20 years

The Burmese Roofing Turtle ( Batagur trivittata) is the most ‘smiling’ turtle in the world. Twenty years ago, the species was considered extinct. But now scientists have restored the population and brought its number to almost a thousand individuals.

Researchers thought the turtle was extinct until one of the species was purchased from a wildlife market in Myanmar. An American collector purchased it in 2001. He gave the turtle to scientists. From that point on, the researchers began collaborating with the government of Myanmar to restore the endangered species. So, during the expedition, three more turtles were found.

Nineteen years later, Wildlife Conservation Society and Turtle Conservation Society (Turtle Survival Alliance) published a series of images showing newly hatched cubs of a “smiling” reptile. Photos accompany the first-ever scientific description of this species’ calves published in the journal Zootaxa



The peculiarity of the Burmese roof turtle is its “smiling” mouth and bulging eyes. This herbivorous reptile lives near the Ayeyarwaddy River in Myan. Climate change, hunting and overexploitation of eggs have brought the species to the brink of extinction. Scientists suggest that five females and only two males remain in the wild.

The further fate of the reptile, unfortunately, is vague. In recent years, hundreds of Burmese tortoise babies have been born, but they have all been in captivity and under the supervision of specialists as part of a breeding program. Researchers plan to “painlessly” return the turtles to the wild.

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