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Science To Turtles: "You’re Built Backwards!"

Why? Because turtles can breathe through their butts and pee from their mouths. Thanks for letting us know this important and world-shattering news, scientists!

1. Meet the “bum-breathing” Fitzroy River Turtle

The Fitzroy River Turtle, native to Australia, is locally known as the “bum-breathing turtle.” Why? Because when researchers observed this species in captivity, they were astonished to see sand and particles swishing about the turtles’ tails. Upon closer inspection, the scientists discovered the Fitzroy turtles had two enlarged bursae that allowed them to acquire aquatic oxygen via the cloacal opening. Most turtles can acquire oxygen this way, incidentally. Bum-breathing allows them to extend their dive time.

By 2002, Toni E. Priest and Craig E. Franklin figured out that the Fitzroy turtle took bum-breathing to extreme levels. Common snapping turtles, for example, take in 4% of their oxygen through their cloacal bursae. In contrast, Fitzroy turtles use significantly more aquatic oxygen: 41% of their overall intake!

Cue the bad breath jokes now, you guys. For the record, this is what bum-breathing looks like:

2. Today’s newsflash: Chinese Soft-Shelled Turtles pee through their mouths.

Chinese soft-shells spend a lot of time with their heads underwater, and damn it, scientists just had to know why. It’s possible that the scientists regretted this endeavor in the end, because they discovered that the turtles were excreting urea via their mouths into the water.

That’s right. They were peeing through their mouths.

Look, soft-shell turtles have kidneys like you and I, so they’re capable of urinating normally. It’s just that they only do this 6% of the time. You should probably stop thinking about the other 94% now. But if you’re a real masochist, you can read more about this in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Anyone want to give this cutie a kiss?

3. There you have it! Turtle plumbing is backwards and I possibly need a drink now. Have a nice day!

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