Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 April 2020

Tortoise related to Lonesome George found on Galapagos Islands

Conservationists find 30 giant tortoises partially descended from extinct species

Park workers inspecting a tortoise near Wolf Volcano on the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. AP
Park workers inspecting a tortoise near Wolf Volcano on the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. AP

Conservationists working around the largest volcano on the Galapagos Islands said they have found 30 giant tortoises partially descended from two extinct species, including that of the famed Lonesome George.

The Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Conservancy said Friday that a young female has a direct line of descent from the Chelonoidis abingdonii species of Pinta Island.

The last of those tortoises was Lonesome George, who died in June 2012 and was believed to be over 100 years old.

Another 11 males and 18 females were from the Chelonoidis niger line of Floreana Island.

The 45-member expedition was working around the Wolf Volcano on Isabela island.

It said pirates and whalers had taken tortoises from other islands in the archipelago and left them near the volcano.

A helicopter transports tortoises near Wolf Volcano on Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. AP
A helicopter transports tortoises near Wolf Volcano on Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Galapagos National Park via AP

Those found during the new expedition were hybrids descended from both the extinct and other species.

The Galapagos, whose variety of endemic species helped inspire Charles Darwin, held 15 closely related species of tortoise, according to the Conservancy, which estimates that about 20,000 to 25,000 wild tortoises live on the islands today.

At least four of the species are now considered extinct.

Updated: February 3, 2020 03:54 PM

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