Nature has actually a juvenile sense of humor. That, at first, seems like the only explanation because that why certain turtles, among them the Australian Fitzroy flow turtle and also the north American east painted turtle, breathe v the earlier end. Both turtles deserve to breathe v their mouths if they so chose.

And yet, once scientists put a little amount of food color in the water close to these turtles, they found that the turtle were illustration in water indigenous both end (and sometimes simply the hind end.) Technically, this hind end isn't one anus, it's a cloaca — an opening with which the turtle excretes, urinates, and also lays its eggs. Still, the entire instance begs the question: why? If the turtle deserve to use that anus like a mouth to breathe, why doesn't it simply use that mouth to breathe?

The feasible answer to the question lies in the turtle's shell. The shell, which progressed from ribs and vertebrae that flattened out and fused together, does an ext than save the turtle safe from bites. As soon as a turtle hibernates, it buries itself in cold water for up to 5 months. To survive, it has to adjust a most things about the way its human body works. Part processes, such as fat burning, walk anaerobic — or there is no oxygen — in a hibernating turtle. Anaerobic processes result in the construct up that lactic acid, and also anyone who has actually seen Aliens knows the too lot acid isn't an excellent for a body. The turtle's shell can not just store some lactic acid, but release bicarbonates (baking soda come the acid's vinegar) right into the turtle's body. It's not simply armor plating, it's a chemistry set.

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It is, however, a fairly restrictive chemistry set. There is no ribs that expand and also contract, the turtle has no usage for the lung and also muscle set-up that many mammals have. Rather it has actually muscles the pull the human body outwards, towards the openings that the shell, to permit it to inhale, and an ext muscles to squish the turtle's guts against its lung to make it exhale. The combination makes for a the majority of work, i beg your pardon is specifically costly if every time you use a muscle your body's mountain levels go up and oxygen levels walk down.

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Compare this come the reasonably cheap butt breathing. Sacs alongside the cloaca, referred to as bursa, easily expand. The walls of these sacs space lined v blood vessels. Oxygen diffuses with the blood vessels, and the sacs space squeezed out. The entire procedure uses tiny energy for a turtle the doesn't have actually a lot to spare. Dignity needs to play second-fiddle to survival sometimes.