A tortoise found in the Galapagos Islands, considered extinct since 1906
The giant tortoise found in the Galapagos Islands turned out to be a representative of a species that has been considered extinct for 115 years. The female was spotted in 2019.
Recently, genetic analysis has confirmed that it belongs to the species Chelonoidis phantasticus (Fernandina's giant tortoise). These turtles were last seen in the wild in 1906, according to BBC News.
During the 2019 expedition, researchers from the Galapagos National Park and the American non-governmental organization Galapagos Conservancy traversed a vast patch of solidified lava and spotted a turtle deep in the bush. To pinpoint its species, scientists at Yale University took samples of genetic material and compared them with samples from the remains of a long-dead male Chelonoidis phantasticus. It turned out that they are the same.
“It is the rarest tortoise, if not an animal, in the world and one of the largest discoveries in the Galapagos in the last century,” said expedition leader Forrest Galante.
Chelonoidis phantasticus is one of 14 species of giant tortoises found in the Galapagos Islands. Only ten of them were able to survive human colonization and excessive hunting.
Local residents reported that they saw similar turtles, but this information could not be officially confirmed until recently. Found by scientists, the female is supposedly 150 years old, she is in the breeding center on the island of Santa Cruz. Scientists hope that other representatives of this species remain in nature, which means there is hope for offspring.
Earlier it was reported that relatives of the extinct Abingdon elephant turtles were found on the Galapagos. This species included Lonely George, who died in 2012.