FEB 25, 2019 4:59 AM PST

A Giant Tortoise Believed to be Extinct Has Been Found in the Galápagos

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

It’s been more than a century since researchers last spotted the Fernandina Giant Tortoise (Cheloloidis phantasticus) in the wild; in fact, it has been so elusive that many conservationists thought it went extinct. However, in a refreshing turn of events, scientists happened upon a wild female lurking around on the Galápagos island of Fernandina on Sunday, February 17th.

The Fernandina Giant Tortoise.

Image Credit: W. Tapia/Galápagos Conservancy

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the scientists experienced a sudden rush of excitement and approached the tortoise to get a closer look. They performed a few quick tests on the tortoise and concluded that she was approximately 100 years old and that she was healthy, albeit marginally underweight for her kind; consequently, she’s being cared for at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center.

“The conservation of Galápagos giant tortoises has been my world for 29 years, and I have been involved in many exciting events, including the discovery of a new species of tortoise. But this time, the emotion I feel is indescribable,” said Wacho Tapia of the Galápagos Conservancy and Director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative.

“To find a living tortoise on Fernandina Island is perhaps the most important find of the century. The only live specimen of the species from Fernandina was found 112 years ago. Now we just need to confirm the genetic origin of this female. She is old, but she is alive!”

Related: All known species of sea turtles have ingested microplastics, study finds

The last official sighting of a Fernandina Giant Tortoise occurred in 1906, and the tortoise’s unexplained disappearance prompted the International Union for Conservation of Nature to distinguish it as a ‘critically endangered’ species on the organization’s Red List. Today, the IUCN estimates that there could be anywhere from 0-5 wild Fernandina Giant Tortoises in existence, and the scientists have just found one.

Furthermore, the scientists allegedly found traces of tortoise droppings and tracks, which indicate that there could be others alongside the female they discovered. As you might come to expect, this revelation has triggered a full-scale search for another Fernandina Giant Tortoise in the Galápagos – preferably a male – such that perhaps they’ll mate and produce offspring.

Related: What's the real reason turtles have shells?

If the circumstances are as dire as the picture the IUCN has painted, then this could be our only hope of reviving the nearly-fallen species. It will, without question, be interesting to see the result of these efforts; after all, it’s not every day conservationists find a species that has eluded them for more than a century and get a chance to save the day.

Source: Galápagos Conservancy via Gizmodo

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 27, 2020
Neuroscience
Bigger Brains Linked to More Manual Dexterity in Apes
JUL 27, 2020
Bigger Brains Linked to More Manual Dexterity in Apes
Although people are very skilled at using their hands, they take a long time to master how to use them. Meanwhile, for m ...
AUG 05, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Bullock's & Baltimore Orioles May Mix, But They Won't Merge
AUG 05, 2020
Bullock's & Baltimore Orioles May Mix, But They Won't Merge
Researchers have data that can finally settle a long controversy in the birding world.
AUG 17, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Therapy Found in The Shell of Cashews
AUG 17, 2020
Therapy Found in The Shell of Cashews
A compound found in the shell of cashews can help in neurodegeneration. "We see this as an exciting finding, sugges ...
SEP 16, 2020
Plants & Animals
The World is Failing to Save Biodiversity
SEP 16, 2020
The World is Failing to Save Biodiversity
Earlier this week, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) released the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (GBO- ...
SEP 06, 2020
Technology
Can Math Determine The Sex of a Dinosaur?
SEP 06, 2020
Can Math Determine The Sex of a Dinosaur?
Can math tell us about the gender differences in dinosaurs? A new study published a novel statistical analysis that esti ...
SEP 24, 2020
Technology
What Drives Essential Sensing in Animals?
SEP 24, 2020
What Drives Essential Sensing in Animals?
What drives essential sensing in animals? Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new theory that can pr ...
Loading Comments...