MEXICO CITY – Scientists from several different universities have discovered a new turtle species in rivers and streams of the western Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta, the country’s National Science and Technology Council (CONACYT) said on Thursday.
The turtle species – the proposed name for which is “Casquito de Vallarta” (Vallarta Helmet) due to its wide and flat shell – is considered to be endangered by the urban sprawl caused by tourism, with only nine specimens accounted for so far.
University of Guadalajara (UDG) researcher and scholar Fabio German Cupul Magaña said that his colleagues are currently looking into the turtle’s habits and biology in an effort to prevent its extinction.
The fresh-water reptile’s natural habitat consists of ecosystems such as streams and marshlands, which tend to be modified as urbanization expands.
The species was discovered in the rivers of suburban Puerto Vallarta by UDG researchers, as well as scientists with Mexico’s Autonomous Juarez University of Tabasco (UJAT), the University of Guanajuato (UGTO) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
The researchers are currently working on publishing the results of the genetic studies performed on the turtle to support the claim that it is indeed a new species.
The reptile’s scientific name is Kinosternon vogti in honor of renowned American herpetologist Richard Vogt, who specialized in the study of fresh-water turtles in the Americas.