Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Alabama leads the nation in states with the greatest diversity of turtles. I really came to this with an open mind. It is also known as the aliflora musk turtle or intermediate musk turtle due to its intermediate patterns on the shell. People recognize that they are intermediate morphologically between the stripe neck musk turtle and the loggerhead musk turtle. The impetus of his work was to find  out whether  the logger-head musk turtle was hybridizing with the stripe-necked turtle. 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. It’s important to emphasize this was not a turtle nobody knew about. 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.”. That turtle is now named the intermediate musk turtle. It is endemic to the Choctawhatchee River and Conecuh River basins. These turtles are mostly carnivorous and they usually feed on small creatures like snails, crawdads, mollusks, insects and any other small creatures. “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. KING: ...A turtle. People recognize that they are intermediate morphologically between the stripe neck musk turtle and the loggerhead musk turtle. You have the Mobile Basin draining into the Gulf. I thought all the previous biologist were correct. They have a beautifully spotted head and kind of a striped neck. He's a postdoc researcher at UCLA, and we talked to him on Skype about his turtle discovery. They are kind of puggish-like little turtles. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record. So the northern part of the state, you have Appalachian Uplands. Who knew that Alabama is prime real estate for all kinds of turtles? And ecologically the intermediate musk turtle is significant. They all have almost the exact distribution that is isolated in these specific watershed, so they have something special and interesting evolutionary going on in this system.”. They kind of have chocolate-colored shells with darker markings on them. GREENE: So Scott pointed out that the intermediate musk turtle is not necessarily a new species. When I got my data and started analyzing it, the data spoke and said this is worthy of special recognition.”. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. According to Scott, he was not trying to find a new turtle species. Accuracy and availability may vary. Check out our story on turtles and how our Alabama is the center of turtle biodiversity in North America. NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. All rights reserved. With the description of this additional species, we pull ahead of the pack even further with regard to turtle diversity. [2] 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. I think they sound kind of cute, don't they? It is also known as the aliflora musk turtle or intermediate musk turtle due to its intermediate patterns on the shell. 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. All Rights Reserved. Sternotherus intermedius is a species of small turtle native to Alabama, United States. 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.” It’s fairly common.”. SCOTT: It's a small turtle, about 3 or 4 inches long as an adult. Last month, Bham Now published a series of stories on Alabama’s biodiversity. PETER SCOTT: People call it the intermediate musk turtle or aliflora (ph) musk turtle. A previous version of the Web introduction for this story incorrectly referred to turtles as amphibians. Finding a new species of turtle cements Alabama’s title as the center of turtle biodiversity in North America. That is Peter Scott. “I never went out with a goal of describing a new turtle at all. 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. [3][4], "New Species Of Turtle Is Discovered In Alabama", "Resolving Taxonomic Turbulence and Uncovering Cryptic Diversity in the Musk Turtles (Sternotherus) Using Robust Demographic Modeling; Sternotherus intermedius", "Meet the intermediate musk turtle, Alabama's newest turtle species", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Intermediate_musk_turtle&oldid=984965402, Taxonbars without primary Wikidata taxon IDs, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 23 October 2020, at 04:25. Turtles are reptiles. We Insist: A Timeline Of Protest Music In 2020. So the question arises what do Musk Turtles eat or what is their diet? The turtle is endemic to the greater Choctawhatchee River and Escambia River basins. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Copyright © 2017 NPR. All content on this site is Copyright Rushing Waters Media LLC/Bham Now 2016-2020. They even feed on carrion and small fish. 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. As we know Musk turtles are kept as pets. SCOTT: At one time, there was a large population of musk turtles across the southeastern United States, and then as different climatic events influenced the region, they all became isolated from each other and separated into kind of three species that were independent from each other. “An adult is 4 to 5 inches long, cute, pugnacious , big headed little animals, that are fun to see. KING: Yes, but Scott's research found something else.

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