Tortoise believed to be extinct for 100 years found in Galapagos


Newly rediscovered Fernandina Giant Tortoise, which was long considered as an extinct species.

- A species of tortoise believed to have been extinct for over 100 years has been discovered in the Galapagos, according to the government of Ecuador.

Washington Tapia, member of Galapagos Conservancy, transports the newly found Fernandina Giant Tortoise to the Galapagos National Park.

An adult female, Chelonoidis phantasticus, believed to be more than a century old was discovered alive on February 17 during an expedition by the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI).

Conservationists have taken measures to save the tortoise by moving it to a breeding centre on the nearby island of Santa Cruz.

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.

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Thankfully, this recent discovery proves that humans don't know all there is to know about the Galapagos, and that there could be more Georges out there. Investigators think there may be more members of the species on the island because of tracks and scat they found.

Including the Chelonoidis Phantasticus, there are 12 species of Galapagos tortoise, one for each of the major islands of the Galapagos archipelago, which was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

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

The Galapagos Parks Authority and the Galapagos Conservancy Group said they found one alive and well on Sunday, hanging out in a patch of vegetation. After his death, his body was stuffed and is now displayed at the Charles Darwin Research Center in the Galapagos.

Fernandina is the third largest island of Galapagos and has an area of 638 square kilometers. With no natural predators, they spread across the islands and split into different species.

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