It’s 21 October, which means it’s International Reptile Awareness day—an occasion to promote education and conservation of these cold-blooded creatures.
Reptiles are a group of vertebrates with skin made of scales or body plates (or a combination of the two) that they frequently shed. They are cold-blooded, which means their internal body temperature and metabolism rely entirely on the temperature of their surroundings.
The earliest reptiles in the fossil record are more than 300 million years old. Today, there are more than 10,000 species that have been added to the Reptile Database—including crocodiles, alligators, snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises.
To mark the occasion, we have rounded up some of the strangest.
Mary river turtle (Elusor macrurus)
The ‘punk rock’ turtle’s green mohawk is actually made of algae, but it’s not the only strange thing about this reptile. The Mary river turtle can breathe underwater using specialized glands in its genitals. According to experts at EDGE of Existence, a program led by the Zoological Society of London, it separated from all other living species approximately 40 million years ago. Today, it can be found in Queensland, Australia, and is listed as endangered.