Science and Tech
WTF Science?! Can You Guess What These Strange Pics Are?

Marshall Lemon | 19 Dec 2014 16:00
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Has science found proof that turtles melt when left in the sun too long? Not exactly; this is the Cantor giant soft-shelled turtle, a rare species that lives in Northern Cambodia. Well, rare from our perspective; when they hit headlines back in 2007, the turtles were a common enough sight that many locals had no idea they were endangered at all. But endangered they are, since the small strip of the Mekong River is one of the few areas the Cantor turtle is known to reside.

Even though this turtle looks like a giant pancake (in fact, another name for softshelled turtles is "pancake turtles"), they do tend to have a layer of solid bone in their shells. The difference is that the carapace tends to be leathery, and doesn't have scales. As for the Cantor turtle specifically, another reason you might not have seen them is because they spend 95% of their lives motionless, buried up to their heads with sand sand waiting for food to come to them. Which is pretty impressive when you consider that Cantor turtles can grow up to 6 feet long.

Not that the Cantor turtle doesn't come out eventually. It usually emerges from the sand twice a day to breathe, or to lay about 20-28 eggs during February and March. They're still an endangered species (and a rather big one at that), be careful if you encounter them in the wild.

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