A unusually coloured albino turtle has been found in India, the latest in a number of recent discoveries of the rare species.
The turtle’s bright yellow colour has been compared to cheese and egg yolk. While such aberrations of colour are rare, there’s actually been at least three spotted in recent months.
Albino critters rarely survive for long but there’s a theory that rare turtles with this bright colour are actually able to live longer than expected because of its protective shell.
In 1997, a turtle with a uniformly yellow body and pink eyes was found in Gujarat on the west coast of India, and other similar examples are said to have been found in Myanmar and Bangladesh, although the data are unpublished.
Just this summer, a golden turtle was photographed in Odisha, an eastern Indian state, and when posted on Twitter, a wildlife biologist in India claimed to have found three such individuals the year before.
Even more recently, a paper was published on the first discovery of a golden flapshell found in Nepal.
While there’s little information on the most recent finds, the phenomenon is thought to be caused by a lack of body pigmentation.
It’s similar to pure albinism – a genetic disorder that causes a complete lack of pigments in the body – but instead of showing up completely white, in certain cases, yellow pteridine pigments can survive to dominate colour production (along with eye pigments).