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New Species Of Turtle Is Discovered In Alabama


GREENE: And who knew? Who knew that Alabama is prime real estate for all kinds of turtles? 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. So the northern part ...


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NOEL KING, HOST: In Alabama, a big discovery was made recently..PETER SCOTT: People call it the intermediate musk turtle or aliflora (ph) musk turtleKING: ...A turtleThat is Peter ScottHe's a postdoc researcher at UCLA, and we talked to him on Skype about his turtle discoverySCOTT: It's a small turtle, about 3 or 4 inches long as an adultThey kind of have chocolate-colored shells with darker markings on themThey have a beautifully spotted head and kind of a striped neckThey are kind of puggish-like little turtlesDAVID GREENE, HOST: I think they sound kind of cute, don't they? KING: (Laughter)GREENE: So Scott pointed out that the intermediate musk turtle is not necessarily a new speciesScientists used to think it was a hybrid of two other species, the striped-neck musk turtle and the loggerhead musk turtleKING: Yes, but Scott's research found something elseSCOTT: 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 groupsKING: But he has an idea as to how these three species of musk turtles might have evolvedSCOTT: 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 otherGREENE: And who knew? Who knew that Alabama is prime real estate for all kinds of turtles? SCOTT: Alabama actually has more species of turtles than anywhere else in the U.SA lot of different eco regions come into contact in AlabamaSo the northern part of the state, you have Appalachian UplandsYou have the Mobile Basin draining into the GulfAnd this kind of combination of diverse ecosystems really cater to then an incredible amount of diversity as far as the organisms that are found thereGREENE: 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 raceTranscript provided by NPR,

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