Giant Tortoise Found in Galapagos Confirmed to Belong to Species Thought to be Extinct

Ecuador confirmed on May 25 that a giant tortoise found on the Galapagos Islands belongs to a species previously considered to have gone extinct over a century ago.

Genetic tests conducted by the Yale University determined that the adult female giant tortoise found on Fernandina Island during an expedition in 2019 is from the Chelonoidis phantasticus species.

“Yale University revealed the results of genetic studies and the respective DNA comparison that was made with a specimen extracted in 1906,” the environment ministry said in a statement.

Environment Minister Gustavo Manrique celebrated the discovery, saying on Twitter, “Hope is alive.”

The environment ministry also announced that Galapagos National Park rangers and Galagapos Conservancy scientists are planning an expedition later this year to search for more members of the species in the island in an attempt to save the species.

“This discovery undoubtedly renews our hope for the recovery of this species,” Galapagos National Park Director Danny Rueda said in a statement.

“The rediscovery of this lost species may have happened just in time to save it. Now we urgently need to complete the search to find other tortoises,” Dr. James Gibbs, vice president of Science and Conservation for the Galapagos Conservancy, said in a statement.

Estimated to be over a hundred years old, the tortoise is currently in a breeding center on Santa Cruz Island.


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