National Geographic, August 1995.


New Tortoise Found After 30-Year Quest

"It's very rare to discover a new genus among vertebrates," says the University of Utah's John M. Legler. He and his Australian colleague John Cann have classified their find, the Mary River tortoise, not only as a new Australian species but as a new genus - Elusor, [and have said it is very strange for it] "to [have] escape notice".

In 1963 Cann found unfimiliar tortoise hatchlings in Sydney pet stores. Where did the adults live? The retialers wouldn't talk, first because they feared competition, then later because the trade was outlawed. Eventually Cann located the sole supplier, in Queensland, who was incubating eggs from the Mary River, where Cann found an adult in 1990. He asked Legler to help write the scientific description, which notes a 15-inch-long shell and an unuasually long, thick tail, half the body length.