APR 15, 2019 08:25 AM PDT

Only Known Female Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle Dies

Asia’s Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is perhaps one of the world’s rarest turtle species. Before this week, there were only four confirmed specimens in existence today. Sadly, one of those four died in captivity at Suzhou Zoo in Southern China.

The last-known female Yangtzee giant softshell turtle has died.

Image Credit: VCG/Getty/File Photo

As if it wasn’t sad enough that there are now only three confirmed Yangtzee giant softshell turtles in the entire world, consider this: the one that died over the weekend was also the only known female. She was accompanied by a single male Yangtzee giant softshell turtle at the zoo, and he’s still around today.

Apart from the lone male residing at Suzhou Zoo, the only other two confirmed Yangtzee giant softshell turtles in existence today purportedly live in the wild in Vietnam. Unfortunately, they haven’t been officially sexed, and so no one knows for sure whether they’re male or female or where they might be hiding at this exact moment in time.

Related: Has the 'extinct' Yangtzee river dolphin been spotted in the wild once more?

The female Yangtzee giant softshell turtle that passed away over the weekend was estimated to be around 90 years old, and she had just finished undergoing her fifth artificial insemination attempt in an effort to boost the species’ numbers. Experts say she was in good health and that the procedure went smoothly, so the exact cause of death is unknown.

A full-scale investigation is now underway to determine why the female Yangtzee giant softshell turtle died. It’s entirely possible that she succumbed to old age in an uncanny instance of happenstance rather than because of the artificial insemination attempt, but experts have collected ovarian tissue samples from her lifeless body just in case it holds any clues into the situation.

Related: New turtle species discovered in Asia, but it's already nearing extinction

At the time of this writing, it’s unknown what will happen next. Will conservationists venture out to Vietnam in an attempt to find and identify the sex of the two remaining wild specimens? Or will we sit back and do nothing, enabling the species to die off in peace? Although neither option is particularly ideal, extinction of the Yangtzee giant softshell turtle species would be inevitable if the deceased indeed was the last remaining female.

On a more positive note, who knows… perhaps a few more Yangtzee giant softshell turtles are lurking somewhere out there and are just waiting to be found. Only time will tell...

Source: Phys.org, Yahoo!

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 12, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 12, 2019
"The Blob" is Back
Five years ago, a phenomenon dubbed “the blob” caused turmoil along the West Coast of the Pacific Ocean. No, it wasn’t an invader from sp...
NOV 12, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2019
Watch a Pod of Dolphins Play Catch With a Pufferfish
Playing catch with a ball of some sort is a popular past time for humans, but as it would seem, even dolphins might enjoy partaking in similar behaviors. I...
NOV 12, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2019
Even Pigs Use Tools to Make Their Lives Easier
For the first time, swine have been observed (and recorded) making use of tools to make their lives easier. Tool usage, which has long been associated with...
NOV 12, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 12, 2019
Gaining Insight Into How Organisms Adapt to Changing Environments
Spadefoot toads are known to be shape-shifters; they can rapidly change their behavior and physiology to adapt to environmental changes....
NOV 12, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 12, 2019
Probiotics Can Help Save Honey Bees From a Fatal Disease
Probiotics have been shown to protect honey bees from a pathogenic bacterium that can wreak havoc on hives....
NOV 12, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2019
Have You Heard of the World's Most Trafficked Animal?
If you were asked what the world’s most trafficked animal was, what would you say? If you answered pangolin, then you’d be correct. Most people...
Loading Comments...