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Soft-shelled turtle pees from its mouth, researchers discover


The 655-pound, seven foot-long leatherback turtle was released back into the water Sunday after dramatic rescue.


Cameron Spencer

Researchers have discovered a variety of soft-shelled turtle that can urinate through its mouth.

Pelodiscus sinensis, said scientists, lives in marshy areas of China and tend to submerge their heads in puddles on dry land, likely as a way to pee.

LiveScience commented on the odd practice, stating that the turtle was an air-breather that was believed could not receive oxygen underwater, making the process all the more strange.

Yet, the study found that it was able to extract some oxygen from the water.

The turtles, it was found, can hold their head in the puddle for nearly two hours.

The Economist reported that for the study researchers bought the soft-shelled turtles at a market in Singapore's Chinatown.

Keeping the turtles in a water tank and then a dry tank with a puddle, they found that the turtles excreted vast amounts of urea.

Indeed, the wet tank contained 15 times the urea found in their urine.

In the dry tank, researchers found the turtles excreted 50 times the amount of urea from their mouths while dipping their heads than from their rear, said LiveScience.

The animal excretes only six percent of their urine from their kidneys and the rest through their mouths.

The findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.