The impetus of his work was to find  out whether  the logger-head musk turtle was hybridizing with the stripe-necked turtle. It is also known as the aliflora musk turtle or intermediate musk turtle due to its intermediate patterns on the shell. It is also known as the aliflora musk turtle or intermediate musk turtle due to its intermediate patterns on the shell. All content on this site is Copyright Rushing Waters Media LLC/Bham Now 2016-2020. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record. Copyright © 2017 NPR. 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. PETER SCOTT: People call it the intermediate musk turtle or aliflora (ph) musk turtle. They kind of have chocolate-colored shells with darker markings on them. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Last month, Bham Now published a series of stories on Alabama’s biodiversity. “I never went out with a goal of describing a new turtle at all. Who knew that Alabama is prime real estate for all kinds of turtles? Darters to turtles: Why Alabama’s aquatic biodiversity matters. It’s fairly common.”. Alabama leads the nation in states with the greatest diversity of turtles. Accuracy and availability may vary. He's a postdoc researcher at UCLA, and we talked to him on Skype about his turtle discovery. When I got my data and started analyzing it, the data spoke and said this is worthy of special recognition.”. I think they sound kind of cute, don't they? And this kind of combination of diverse ecosystems really cater to then an incredible amount of diversity as far as the organisms that are found there. Mark Bailey, the co-author of Turtles of Alabama explains. GREENE: And who knew? So the question arises what do Musk Turtles eat or what is their diet? NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. We Insist: A Timeline Of Protest Music In 2020. They are kind of puggish-like little turtles. KING: Yes, but Scott's research found something else. 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. They even feed on carrion and small fish. “An adult is 4 to 5 inches long, cute, pugnacious , big headed little animals, that are fun to see. That turtle is now named the intermediate musk turtle. So the northern part of the state, you have Appalachian Uplands. These turtles are mostly carnivorous and they usually feed on small creatures like snails, crawdads, mollusks, insects and any other small creatures. Peter Scott, a post doctoral scholar at UCLA, who received his PhD at the University of Alabama was not trying to discover a new species of turtle. 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. 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. Researcher Peter Scott recently discovered another species of the reptile: the intermediate 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. 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. You have the Mobile Basin draining into the Gulf. All rights reserved. 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.”. People recognize that they are intermediate morphologically between the stripe neck musk turtle and the loggerhead musk turtle. [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. With the description of this additional species, we pull ahead of the pack even further with regard to turtle diversity. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information. 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. Sternotherus intermedius is a species of small turtle native to Alabama, United States. They have a beautifully spotted head and kind of a striped neck. Apart from this their diet consists of aquatic invertebrates particularly freshwater clams, crayfish and even insects found in water. It is endemic to the Choctawhatchee River and Conecuh River basins. 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. 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.”. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. As we know Musk turtles are kept as pets. I thought all the previous biologist were correct. People recognize that they are intermediate morphologically between the stripe neck musk turtle and the loggerhead musk turtle. And ecologically the intermediate musk turtle is significant. [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. Scientists used to think it was a hybrid of two other species, the striped-neck musk turtle and the loggerhead 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. The turtle is endemic to the greater Choctawhatchee River and Escambia River basins. 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. SCOTT: It's a small turtle, about 3 or 4 inches long as an adult. KING: But he has an idea as to how these three species of musk turtles might have evolved. GREENE: So Scott pointed out that the intermediate musk turtle is not necessarily a new species. All Rights Reserved. KING: ...A turtle. Check out our story on turtles and how our Alabama is the center of turtle biodiversity in North America. Occ… 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 is Peter Scott. According to Scott, he was not trying to find a new turtle species. Longtime conservationist. In Alabama, a big discovery was made recently... PETER SCOTT: People call it the intermediate musk turtle or aliflora (ph) musk turtle. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. I really came to this with an open mind. Turtles are reptiles. 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.

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