Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 17th, 2007
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 . Australian News.