Nature & Environment
Living relative of Lonesome George discovered
By T.K. Randall
February 2, 2020 · 1 comment
Perhaps George wasn't as lonesome as we thought. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Arturo de Frias Marques
Scientists have found a tortoise with strong genetic links to George who was thought to be the last of his kind.
Back in 2012, Lonesome George - the last known member of the Pinta giant tortoise species - died at the ripe old age of 100 having produced no offspring over the course of his long life.
It was a sad time for conservationists as well as a stark wake up call as it demonstrated just how vulnerable the various subspecies of Galapagos giant tortoise were to being wiped out.
Now though, a spark of hope has been ignited after a scientific expedition to Wolf Volcano discovered a young female tortoise with a surprisingly strong genetic link to George.
Scientists have speculated that she could be a descendent of another of George's species who might even still be alive somewhere on the Galapagos Islands.
In addition, 29 tortoises with strong genetic links to another presumably extinct subspecies - Chelonoidis niger Floreana
- were also found during the expedition.
In total there are thought to be between 10,000 and 12,000 tortoises on the island.
Could it be that Lonesome George wasn't quite as lonesome as scientists thought ?
The search for answers continues.
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