PUERTO VALLARTA (Mexico), June 13 — Slow and steady wins the race, the saying goes — and it seems to have worked for a small type of turtle native to western Mexico that has been declared a new species.
For 20 years, residents of the area around Puerto Vallarta, a Pacific coast resort town, had been telling scientists about the little turtles native to their area.
But it was only in May that zoologists were able to identify them as the world’s newest species, Kinosternon vogti — named for American herpetologist Richard Vogt, who has studied US, Mexican and Central American turtles for more than four decades.
The good news came with a dose of bad, however: The turtles, recognisable by a yellow spot on the tip of the nose, are also endangered.
“They are found only here, in the streams and rivers around Puerto Vallarta,” said Fabio German Cupul, a researcher at the University of Guadalajara.
Measuring just 10 centimetres long, the tiny turtles easily fit in the palm of a hand.
“They are wider than they are tall, unlike every other (turtle) species,” Cupul told AFP.
Just four of the turtles have been documented so far, he said: Three males and a female.
Five more were found dead and taken to the country’s largest university, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, for research.
Of the surviving turtles, one male and one female have been taken to a reproduction centre in hopes they will procreate.
The other two males have been taken to a wildlife park in Puerto Vallarta.
The find was published in Chelonian Conservation and Biology, an academic journal specialised in turtles and tortoises. — AFP