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Steve Irwin’s New Turtle Discovery

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 17th, 2007

Irwin's turtle

Steve Irwin’s father, Bob, pictured lower left, discusses the naming of the new turtle, lower right, after Steve.

To round out the picture of the late Steve Irwin’s contributions to cryptozoology, beyond his search for Thylacines, it is worthy of mentioning that Steve Irwin discovered a new animal, a turtle, which has now been named after him.

Television personality Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin and his father, Bob, caught a unknown turtle on a fishing line during a camping trip in 1990. It was new to them, and thus Steve took photographs and sent them to turtle authority John Cann. After Irwin’s death, Cann determined the animal was a new species.

The common name is now “Irwin’s turtle” and the Latin name is Elseya irwini, a new species of Australian turtle. The female of the species has a pale head with a yellowish horny sheath on the crown. The type locality is the Burdekin River drainage, on the coast of Queensland [19º42’S 147º18’E].

Irwin’s turtle has been determined to be noctidiurnal. It is able to breath underwater for extended periods of time because it possesses the unusual ability to intake water into its cloaca, which contains a special organ to extract oxygen. Also, of 82 captured Irwin’s turtles examined of an estimated population of 4000-5000, 77 were found to be females, thus showing the most female-biased turtle population known, but for reasons unknown.

Indeed, Irwin’s turtle is unique, as was Steve Irwin.

Source: Elseya irwini Cann, J. (1997). Irwin’s Turtle: A new species of short-necked turtle from Western Australia. Monitor 9(1): 36-40 [36]. Australian News.

Steve Irwin

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


8 Responses to “Steve Irwin’s New Turtle Discovery”

  1. planettom responds:

    Great article, thanks for posting Loren. How fitting to have the turtle named after Irwin. Very nice. Interesting how the turtle can breathe under water, I’ve never heard of that before.

  2. Bob Michaels responds:

    A new turtle named in honor of the Great Steve Irwin, I still miss that guy, he had a great love for discovery and conservation.

  3. shovethenos responds:

    Yeah, that oxygen-extracting cloaca is something, anyone know how many other aquatic or marine reptiles have one? Makes you wonder what adaptations other known or unknown reptiles may have.

  4. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Fittingly deserved.

  5. Grant responds:

    I can answer part of shovethenos’ question. I don’t know much about reptiles in the biological sense, but I know that the alligator snapping turtle stays on the bottom for ages, luring fish with its tongue (which resembles a worm), the way some of the predatory fish do.

  6. Mnynames responds:

    Might the great marine reptiles of the Jurassic have possessed something similar to extend the length of their dives? Is there any way to find out?

  7. Alligator responds:

    Good article and fitting tribute to Steve Irwin. We still enjoy watching him scramble through the bush in the reruns.

  8. brittney m responds:

    A turtle named after my idol….Yay! Steve was the best!



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