Would You Rather?
Check out the Angelina Jolie lips on this guy! You won’t want to go kissing those lips though because this little turtle, native to China (including Manchuria and Taiwan), North Vietnam and Japan, pees out his mouth! Yes you read right. It was recently found that the Asiatic Soft Shelled Turtle excretes urea waste out their mouths. It’s not exactly urination as we would think of urination. The turtle sticks its head into a puddle and rinses its mouth with the water, expelling urea which has been brought to their mouths through the bloodstream. A team of researchers at the National University of Singapore found that the turtles carry a gene responsible for producing a specialized protein which helps expel urea but is expressed in their mouths instead of their kidneys.
This discovery could have some implications for humans in medical conditions such as kidney failure. They are suggesting that instead of undergoing dialysis to remove the toxic urea, they could expel the waste themselves through their mouths. They said, "hypothetically, if active urea-excretion mechanisms can be expressed in the mouth of a patient with kidney failure, urea excretion can still occur, through rinsing the mouth with water—just like the soft-shelled turtle."
This is like one of those would you rather situations. Which exactly would be worse: sitting through dialysis on a regular basis or always having your mouth taste like pee? I personally would rather have dialysis. But who knows, I might be singing a different tune someday if I ever need dialysis and I will be thanking my lucky stars that some researcher in Singapore wondered why turtles stuck their heads underwater not to drink.
Special thanks to National Geographic for telling us about this oddity in nature. Read the whole article here: Turtles Urinate Via Their Mouths—A First
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