A research team from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discovered three massive snapping turtles near Gainesville, Florida. One included a whopping 100 pound male turtle.
According to a Facebook post by the FWC, the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, also known as Macrochelys suwanniensis are a newly identified species by experts.
“Formerly, the alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) was considered a single, wide-ranging species that extended from the Suwannee River drainage west into Texas,” stated the FWC. “Everyone agrees that the Suwannee species is distinct. The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle has been isolated for at least 5.5 million years, during which time it has undergone sufficient evolutionary changes to differentiate it from other alligator snapping turtles.”
Snapping Turtles Of Immense Proportions
The team set up a number of hoop-net traps in the New River, north of Gainesville. “The New River is a blackwater stream with low biological productivity,” said the group, “so finding a large turtle in such a small stream is unusual.” The 100 pound male is reportedly the largest ever recorded in history. Also among the turtles founds were a 64-pound male and a 46-pound female. Experts say the turtles are between 40 and 80 years old.
According to the Florida Natural Areas Inventory research center at Florida State University, these reptiles can reach “immense proportions.” An adult male can grow as large as two and half feet long.
Alligator snapping turtles are commonly referred to as the “dinosaur of the turtle world,” according to National Geographic. They are the largest and heaviest freshwater turtles in North America. National Geographic also added the turtles can live between 50 and 100 years. Males can weigh around 175 pounds on average, thought some have exceeded 220 pounds.
The FWC revealed they are working with researchers in Florida and Georgia on the new species. This is “to document the distribution and relative abundance of this state threatened species.” Their numbers have dwindled due to “unregulated harvesting and habitat loss.”
The research team released the turtles back into the wild after collecting data.