October 11, 2012

A turtle that pees through its mouth?

The Chinese soft-shelled turtle is a lot like other turtles. It lives in swampy, salty areas. It has a shell. It doesn’t smile much.

But what makes the Chinese soft-shelled turtle special is the fact that it pees through its mouth. Wait, that sounds weird. Okay, how about this: Urine gets its name from urea, the product of breaking down proteins in the body. The urea enters your bloodstream, then your kidneys filter the urea out, then you pee it into a toilet or urinal.

The Chinese soft-shelled turtle has urea filters inside its mouth. So if you check the turtle’s saliva for urea, you’ll find a lot of it! So does the turtle spit, or what? According to Ed Yong at Discover Magazine, “It just gargles some surrounding water and spits out its waste.”

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