Quantcast
Connect with us

Giant tortoise thought extinct is found on Galapagos

Published

on

Conservationists in the Galapagos Islands have found a giant tortoise from a species thought to have become extinct more than a century ago.

The adult female tortoise was found on the island of Fernandina in the west of the Pacific archipelago, and is believed to be a Fernandina Giant Tortoise, also known as Chelonoidis phantasticus, a species last sighted in 1906.

ADVERTISEMENT

 AFP / Rodrigo BUENDIA Washington Tapia (L), of Galapagos Conservancy, holds a giant Galapagos tortoise Chelonoidis phantasticus, thought to have become extinct about a century ago

The tortoise is believed to be about 100 years old. It was taken by boat to the main Galapagos conservation center on Santa Cruz island.

The animal “exceeds 100 years” in age and is “a very old tortoise,” said Washington Tapia of Galapagos Conservancy, a US non-profit dedicated to conserving the Galapagos.

The islands are best known for their unique flora and fauna, which inspired naturalist Charles Darwin to write his landmark 1859 study on evolution, The Origin of Species.

Ecuador’s Environment Minister Marcelo Mata announced on Twitter the discovery of a specimen “of the tortoise species Chelonoidis phantasticus, which was believed to have gone extinct more than 100 years ago.”

ADVERTISEMENT

                                                                      AFP / Rodrigo BUENDIA Washington Tapia of Galapagos Conservancy, a US group focusing on preserving the unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos islands, transfers the newly-found giant tortoise from Fernandina to Santa Cruz, where conservation efforts are centered

A ministry statement said conservationists were hopeful other members of the species were on the island, judging by tracks and spores they found.

Genetic tests will be carried out to confirm the tortoise was indeed a member of the long-lost species, it said.

The Chelonoidis phantasticus species is native to Fernandina, which is uninhabited, topped by an active volcano, and one of the youngest islands in the chain.

ADVERTISEMENT

It is one of 15 known species of giant tortoises in the Galapagos, at least two of which have already vanished.

Any remaining Fernandina tortoises may be separated from each other by recent lave flows, researchers said.

  AFP / Rodrigo BUENDIA The female giant tortoise is thought to be about 100 years old and scientists will carry out genetic tests to confirm it really is a member of the Fernandina species, last seen in 1906. 

In 2015, the Galapagos authorities announced the discovery of a new species of tortoise that they called Chelonoidis donfaustoi, named after Fausto Llerena, the park ranger who for 40 years looked after Lonesome George, the iconic last tortoise of his Pinta species, who died in 2012.

ADVERTISEMENT

George become an icon of the islands, 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the coast of South America.

Scientists tried to save George’s species by breeding him with females from a related species, but their eggs failed to hatch. After his death, his body was stuffed and is currently displayed at the Charles Darwin Research Center in the Galapagos.

Giant tortoises are believed to have arrived on the remote volcanic island chain about three to four million years ago, borne by ocean currents. With no natural predators, they spread across the islands and split into different species.

ADVERTISEMENT

Their numbers were decimated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by sailors who took advantage of their ability to endure long periods without food or water to use them as easily stored fresh meat on Pacific voyages.

Their numbers were also hit by invasive species such as rats, pigs and dogs, which eat their eggs, while other introduced domestic animals like goats destroyed their habitat.

In captivity, the giant tortoises can easily live to more than 100 years.

ADVERTISEMENT

Scientists have discovered that the tortoises have genetic variants linked to DNA repair, with healing power that enables their longevity.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Has anything changed since Burning Man’s sex assault and labor issues were exposed?

Published

on

The last weekend in August marks the start of Burning Man, a week-long, festival in the Nevada desert consisting of freewheeling performance art, fanciful costumes, and a lot of drugs. The anarchic party with more than 50,000 attendees constitutes a pilgrimage for many attendees, lured by the promise of leaving the “default world” behind in exchange for a transformative or even spiritual experience.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Truckers are facing a ‘bloodbath’ in their industry — and it’s turning many in the pro-Trump group against him: report

Published

on

Truckers are numerous, conservative, and hurting. And despite their widespread support for Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016, a new report from Business Insider suggests the pain in the industry might be turning these workers away from the president.

The political trends in trucking are not insignificant. According to the American Trucking Associations, there were an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in 2018. RTS Financial has found that there are 7.4 million jobs total “tied to the trucking industry.” And Business Insider reported that nearly 90 percent of truckers are registered voters, higher than the general population.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

WATCH: Trump’s collusion with Russia is now a topic for impeachment — along with obstruction and racism

Published

on

President Donald Trump's interactions with Russia are now a topic of the impeachment investigation.

"There was an important development in support for impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives today," MSNBC anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported Tuesday. "Important both in who the new support comes from and what that support is based on."

"Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois is one of the freshmen Democrats who flipped a Republican district last year in winning her election. She brings the total number of House Democrats supporting impeachment now to 126 -- a majority of the Democrats' 235 members of the House," he explained.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image