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50 billion years of animal evolution under threat from human activity, study says

punk-haired Mary River turtle, found in Queensland, AustraliaFifty billion years of evolutionary history is under threat from human activity, according to a new study which suggests some of the most threatened areas contain the most unique animals. Branches of the tree of life will be cut by the loss of animals such as the Mary River turtle, native to Queensland, Australia, recognisable by its punk-like algae ‘hair’, whose evolution stretches back 40 million years. The turtle, which breathes out of its genitals underwater and doesn’t reach sexual maturity for 25 years, is threatened by the pet trade. Other highly evolutionarily distinct species include the Aye-aye lemur, which are found only on the island of Madagascar, where in 1990 Gerald Durrell embarked on a rescue mission to save dwindling numbers of the long-finger and bushy-tailed primate from the effects of deforestation. The A
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