A rare turtle that is bright yellow has been rescued in a village pond in West Bengal, India.
The bizarre reptile is afflicted with a form of albinism that affects its color and has been compared online to melted cheese on a burger.
The rescued turtle belongs to a rare species called the Indian flap shell turtle.
Sneha Dharwadka posted images of the turtle on Twitter and suggested two potential explanations for its one of a kind coloration.
“It’s an albino kind whose peculiar yellow color is maybe because of either some genetic mutation or congenital disorder due to the absence of tyrosine pigment,” Dharwadka said.
The Indian flap shell turtle, which is normally green, is typically found in South Asia and is between 9 to 14 inches long.
Last August, a similar animal of the same species was also discovered in Nepal. It was compared to a mythological incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu at the time.
These two events make up just the fifth and sixth sightings of albinism in this species.
Kamal Devkota, a reptile expert who documented the previous find, said that the turtle had a deep spiritual significance.
“Not only golden animals but turtles overall have significant religious and cultural value in Nepal,” Devkota said. “It is believed that Lord Vishnu took the form of a turtle to save the universe from destruction in his incarnation. In Hindu mythology, the upper shell of the turtle denotes the sky and the lower shell denotes earth.”
Vishnu’s turtle avatar, known as Kurma, is worshipped in a number of temples in India up until today.
The golden turtle owes its remarkable color to chromatic leucism — a condition characterized by a loss of color pigmentation. It usually results in white, pale, or patchy skin, but in this case, it leads to xanthophores — cells abundant with yellow pigments — becoming dominant.