For a long time, it was thought to be a hybrid between the two subspecies of the loggerhead musk turtle (the loggerhead and striped-neck musk turtle), but in 2017, it was declared a new species based on DNA research. Darters to turtles: Why Alabama’s aquatic biodiversity matters. And ecologically the intermediate musk turtle is significant. SCOTT: Alabama actually has more species of turtles than anywhere else in the U.S. A lot of different eco regions come into contact in Alabama. It is endemic to the Choctawhatchee River and Conecuh River basins. It’s fairly common.”. Researcher Peter Scott recently discovered another species of the reptile: the intermediate musk turtle. The turtle is endemic to the greater Choctawhatchee River and Escambia River basins. People recognize that they are intermediate morphologically between the stripe neck musk turtle and the loggerhead musk turtle. KING: But he has an idea as to how these three species of musk turtles might have evolved. Who knew that Alabama is prime real estate for all kinds of turtles? I thought all the previous biologist were correct. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Scott concluded, “Its good to know that we can describe new animals in our backyards, it reminds us why we need to be conscientious to what we are doing to our environment, because we might be erasing or hurting that something we don’t even know exist yet.”. Scientists used to think it was a hybrid of two other species, the striped-neck musk turtle and the loggerhead musk turtle. GREENE: And who knew? As we know Musk turtles are kept as pets. Finding a new species of turtle cements Alabama’s title as the center of turtle biodiversity in North America. In Alabama, a big discovery was made recently... PETER SCOTT: People call it the intermediate musk turtle or aliflora (ph) musk turtle. “In our Turtles of Alabama book we list 40 distinct turtles (that includes species, subspecies, and genetic clades) native to Alabama, which is more than any other state. The impetus of his work was to find out whether the logger-head musk turtle was hybridizing with the stripe-necked turtle. Copyright © 2017 NPR. Scott added, “What’s nice is the distribution of this turtle is shared by a lot of other aquatic biodiversity in Alabama, like freshwater snails, mussels and fish. They are kind of puggish-like little turtles. You have the Mobile Basin draining into the Gulf. All content on this site is Copyright Rushing Waters Media LLC/Bham Now 2016-2020. All rights reserved. I really came to this with an open mind. Mark Bailey, the co-author of Turtles of Alabama explains. That turtle is now named the intermediate musk turtle. According to Scott, he was not trying to find a new turtle species. That is Peter Scott. It is also known as the aliflora musk turtle or intermediate musk turtle due to its intermediate patterns on the shell. SCOTT: The turtles in the Choctawhatchee and Escambia River basins are their own evolutionary entity, and there is no hybridization at all between any of these groups. He's a postdoc researcher at UCLA, and we talked to him on Skype about his turtle discovery. They even feed on carrion and small fish. Occ… It is also known as the aliflora musk turtle or intermediate musk turtle due to its intermediate patterns on the shell. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record. When he looked at the hybrid zones between those two species with DNA studies, instead of finding a “hybrid” musk turtle, to his surprise he found a completely new species. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards. PETER SCOTT: People call it the intermediate musk turtle or aliflora (ph) musk turtle. GREENE: He says the research that led him to finding this new species of turtle took a good deal of time, proving that slow and steady does indeed win the race.  For a long time, it was thought to be a hybrid between the two subspecies of the loggerhead musk turtle (the loggerhead and striped-neck musk turtle), but in 2017, it was declared a new species based on DNA research. “An adult is 4 to 5 inches long, cute, pugnacious , big headed little animals, that are fun to see. When I got my data and started analyzing it, the data spoke and said this is worthy of special recognition.”. KING: Yes, but Scott's research found something else. With the description of this additional species, we pull ahead of the pack even further with regard to turtle diversity. All Rights Reserved. You can see them walking a creek bottom or snorkling while they are out foraging on the river bottom, according to Scott, The Force is strong in Birmingham; Star Wars:The Last Jedi mania hits the Magic City, Birmingham’s Two Maids and A Mop to be featured on CNBC’s reality show, ‘The Job Interview’, Search over 600 local restaurants, bars and businesses offering deals, curbside delivery and more, Support over 130 local nonprofit organizations.
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