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Turtle Species Discovered In Papua New Guinea

First Posted: Feb 17, 2016 11:26 AM EST

Researchers have discovered a new species of freshwater turtle in Papua New Guinea, according to a study. Papua New Guinea is a mountainous and tropical country in the South Pacific Ocean, known for its massive biological diversity. However, most of its remote regions still remain untouched. The newly found freshwater turtle belongs to one of three related species - "Elseya novaeguineae," "Elseya schultzei" and the "Elseya rhodini" - found across New Guinea Island.

"The three species evolved from a common ancestor between 17 and 19 million years ago. These ages are quite remarkable and came as a surprise, because it means these turtles have together seen the full geological development of the island of New Guinea," Arthur Georges, lead author from the University of Canberra, said in a news release. "The other species of freshwater turtle appear to have arrived after New Guinea had formed much as we see it today."

The turtles were identified as a new species from their distant relatives. The researchers found that the species was spread out across most of the island and in the south central ranges as well.  

Georges noted that one of the turtle's most distinguishing features was its reddish color.

The findings of this study were published in the journal Zootaxa.

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