Turtles Urinate Via Their Mouths—A First

Peeing out of the mouth helps species stay healthy, scientist suggests.

The findings could also have stomach-churning implications for humans with kidney failure, scientists say.

Researchers at the National University of Singapore noticed Pelodiscus sinensis turtles would stick their heads into puddles of water and wiggle their tongues, but they weren't drinking.

Study leader Yuen K. Ip and colleagues also knew that the soft-shelled turtle had structures similar to gills inside its mouth, which had previously been thought to help the turtle breathe—but did not actually function as gills.

"However, I saw a controversy here," Ip said via e-mail. "If the turtle has lungs, why would it need to submerge its head in water [to breathe]?"

(Also see "Male Monkeys Wash With Urine to Attract Females?")

To find out, the researchers purchased live turtles from a local market and

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