Research group led by Canadian curator finds new tortoise species in Mexico

TORONTO -- A group of international researchers led by a curator from the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto says it has discovered a new species of tortoise in northern Mexico.

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After decades of study, the team uncovered what was previously thought to be a single species of tortoise is actually three species.

The new species has been named Goode's Thornscrub Tortoise after businessman and philanthropist Eric Goode, who is known for his efforts to ensure the survival of turtles and tortoises globally.

The previously known tortoises in the group, Agassiz's Desert Tortoise and Morafka's Desert Tortoise, live in the Mojave Desert, from southern Utah to southern California and from Arizona to central Sonora.

Goode's Thornscrub Tortoise has the smallest distribution among the group and the researchers say it is most certainly threatened with extinction.

The research by the group led by Bob Murphy, the ROM's senior curator of herpetology, is to be published this week in the journal ZooKeys.

"This discovery draws attention to the special biodiversity found in Mexico, and the habitats that are threatened," Murphy said Wednesday in a release. "These research results will help scientists in their efforts to protect endemic wildlife."


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