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Conservation of coastal rivers of the northern Gulf of Mexico is vital to the survival of the alligator snapping turtle, including two recently discovered species, scientists say. A new study shows the alligator snapping turtle, the largest freshwater turtle in the Western Hemisphere and previously believed to be one species, is actually three separate species.

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Dramatic distribution losses and a few major distribution gains are forecasted for southwestern bird and reptile species as the climate changes, according to new research. Overall, the study forecasted species distribution losses -- that is, where species are able to live -- of nearly half for all but one of the 5 reptile species they examined, including for the iconic chuckwalla.

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Scientists have studied the widely distributed freshwater turtle, Mauremys rivulata. In spite of geographical barriers, the turtles are genetically very similar throughout their vast  distribution range. This would indicate that that animals cross hundreds of kilometers of sea.

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Scientists have found the oldest definitive fossil evidence of modern, venomous snakes in Africa. The newly discovered fossils demonstrate that elapid snakes -- such as cobras, kraits and sea snakes -- were present in Africa as early as 25 million years ago. Elapids belong to a larger group of snakes known as colubroids, active foragers that use a variety of methods, including venom, to capture and kill prey.

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