An alligator snapping turtle, a dinosaur-looking reptile found in the southeastern United States, mysteriously turned up 6,000 miles from its native home when a fisherman accidentally caught the beast in the Amur River in eastern Russia.
Anastasia Steshina of Leninskoye, Russia, took photos of the alligator snapping turtle after her fisherman friend phoned her to meet her at the river.
"When we saw it, we did not even realize that it was a turtle," Steshina told The Siberian Times. "It reminded us of a dinosaur.
"I have never seen such a thing before and neither have my friends. We talked to the local fishermen and they think it is not the only one here since, they say, such animals do not live alone."
Steshina posted her photos on social media in Russia where it "went crazy," and shared them with news outlets. Some Russians were quick to claim the photos were fake. Then she posted video showing it was very much real:
In Russian, the woman in the video is heard saying, "Releasing the beast into the wild," according to The Siberian Times.
A man tries pushing it back into the water, to which the woman responds, "Don't! Look, it doesn't understand yet what's going on."
The man picks up the alligator snapping turtle and carries it to the water's edge, saying, "We will put it close to the water so it will understand faster."
What is hard to understand is why an alligator snapping turtle, the heaviest freshwater turtle in the world, would be swimming in the Amur River in Russia.
They are typically found from East Texas to the Florida panhandle to the Midwest, and are common in the Missouri River.
The Siberian Times offered this explanation:
One theory is that [it] was thrown away by a Russian keeper when it became too big and has ended up in the Amur. Another is that it is possible the Chinese are involved in breeding the turtles on the other side of the river—it is said to have tasty meat and eggs.
The Russian alligator snapping turtle, with its powerful jaws and spiky shell similar to an alligator, eventually swam off into the Amur River, leaving a mystery in its wake.
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