An exceedingly strange turtle, covered in spikes and resembling nothing so much as a dinosaur (or the real-life incarnation of Bowser), crawled out of a Russian river recently, startling many who viewed it on social media.
Leninskoye resident Anastasia Steshina filmed the odd-looking turtle, which was caught by a fisherman friend of hers in the Amur River, according to the Siberian Times. When the group first discovered the turtle, they didn’t realize what the animal was, Steshina said, thinking that it resembled a dinosaur.
“It wasn’t just scary,” she noted. “It was biting through sticks with its jaws and tried to attack us, awkwardly though because it is a water animal. That said, it can move on the ground and you can see it has claws -– and I tell you, they are very big.”
When photos of the turtle were first posted to social media, many users claimed they were fake, yet it turns out that the animal is a known species, far from home. Although it was found in Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region (which is located in the country’s Far East), the animal is actually an alligator snapping turtle, a common fixture in the American Southeast.
— ninemsn (@ninemsn) July 1, 2015
According to National Geographic, the alligator snapping turtle is a freshwater creature which inhabits rivers, lakes, and streams in North America. It is almost exclusively found in the southern reaches of the United States, making its presence in Siberia something of a mystery. It has been suggested that a Russian owner may have attempted to dispose of the turtle when it grew too large to keep, while others assert that a Chinese settlement on the other side of the river could be breeding the animals for their meat and eggs.
— Paul Erickson (@epaulnet) July 1, 2015
The turtles have been known to grow as large as 220 pounds, with shells that measure 26-inches-long. Females are much smaller, growing to only 50 pounds, but the species is known to live for up to a century. Their resemblance to Bowser, the classic Mario Bros. villain, is no accident; the character was intentionally based on an alligator snapping turtle, due to its fearsome appearance.
In 2013, an alligator turtle was found in Germany, as the Inquisitr previously reported, where it was believed to have been released by an owner after the species was outlawed.
Though it was rumored on social media that the turtle was harmed, Steshina pointed to the video as evidence that the animal had gone on its way with a little prodding. At the end of the clip, the dinosaur-like alligator turtle can be seen swimming away from the shore, into the Amur river.
[Image: Anastasia Steshina via the Siberian Times]