Endangered reptile: Australia’s ‘punk turtle’ risks being last of the Mohicans

A Mary River Turtle looks on in Queensland, Australia, in this 2008 photo obtained from social media. Once a popular pet in Australia, the exact population of the Mary River Turtle, known to biologists as Elusor macrurus, is unknown. (Chris Van Wyk via Reuters)
Updated 13 April 2018
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Endangered reptile: Australia’s ‘punk turtle’ risks being last of the Mohicans

SYDNEY: Australia’s Mary River Turtle — with its green Mohican-style hair and ability to breathe through its genitals — is one of the world’s most distinctive reptiles.
It is also now officially among the most endangered.
The “punk turtle” was this week ranked 29th on the Zoological Society of London’s Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered list, triggering calls for better protection of the reptile found in a remote part of Australia’s east coast.
“You have to go back about 50 million years to find a closely related species,” said Marilyn Connell, a researcher at Australia’s Charles Darwin University.
“It would be a failure if we let this animal that walked alongside dinosaurs become extinct.”
Once a popular pet in Australia, the exact population of the Mary River Turtle, known to biologists as Elusor macrurus, is unknown, the Zoological Society of London said. Its distinctive hairdo is actually algae that grow on its head.
Academic research was hampered in 1974 when traders refused to reveal the habitat of what were then known as “Penny Turtles” after Australia outlawed the practice of keeping them as pets.
Nearly 20 years later, John Cann, a Sydney-based turtle enthusiast, rediscovered the turtle in the Mary River in Queensland. It was classified as a new species.
The turtle’s habitat is not fully protected, Cann said, and the introduction of new fish species to the waterway also threatened juvenile turtles.
“They survived in good numbers for millions of years,” Cann said. “Then along came the pigs and foxes, and on top of the native predators and people — that’s what has made them endangered.”


Weinstein in search of a lawyer as trial approaches

Updated 19 June 2019
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Weinstein in search of a lawyer as trial approaches

  • He is accused of harassment by more than 80 women
  • Weinstein’s first lawyer withdrew from the case in January

NEW YORK: The main lawyer for Harvey Weinstein has asked a judge to be removed from the case, leaving the disgraced movie mogul without counsel as his sexual assault trial approaches in September.
Weinstein has been charged over the alleged assaults of two women — a rape in 2013 and an incident of forced oral sex in 2006. He faces life in prison if convicted, and is also accused of sexual misconduct with dozens of other women.
Weinstein’s first lawyer, Benjamin Braufman, withdrew in January after which Weinstein hired two other high-profile attorneys, Ronald Sullivan and Jose Baez.
Sullivan, who also teaches at Harvard, pulled out in May after coming under fierce criticism on campus for defending the man seen as giving rise to the #MeToo movement.
Once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, Weinstein has been accused of harassment and assault by more than 80 women, including stars such as Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd.
Then last week Baez asked to withdraw from the case, New York news outlets reported. He did so in a letter to State Supreme Court Justice James Burke, who is overseeing the case.
“First, Mr. Weinstein has engaged in behavior that makes this representation unreasonably difficult to carry out effectively and has insisted upon taking actions with which I have fundamental disagreements,” Baez wrote.
“For example, he has engaged outside counsel to communicate with myself and my co-counsel and has decided to have another attorney threaten legal action against this firm,” Baez said, adding that since May 15 or earlier Weinstein has known that Baez probably could not stay with the case.
Neither Baez, nor a spokesman for Weinstein nor the Manhattan prosecutor’s office responded to AFP’s requests for comment.
No hearing is scheduled until September 9, when jury selection is scheduled to begin in a trial that promises to be a media sensation.
It is not clear if the trial might be postponed because of Weinstein’s lawyer problems.