Lonesome George, the giant Galapagos tortoise believed to be the last of his kind, was always popular among those traveling to the Galapagos Islands of vacation. Poor old George passed away back in 2012.
His body was stuffed by a team of taxidermists (it cost about $30,000) and put on display as a reminder of a subspecies that was now extinct, a reminder how fragile life on this planet is.
It is too late for George, but last year scientists discovered a young female tortoise directly descended from the same species of tortoise as Lonesome George. He had been found in solitary splendor on Pinta Island. The newly discovered female wasn’t merely playing hard to get. She was found on Isabela Island so there was no chance the two would have connected. (Not even for a long-distance romance.)
And fortunately, she was not found alone. She was in the company of 18 other female tortoises and 11 males. All of them were found to be related to another subspecies of Galapagos tortoises that scientists had thought was extinct.
“The new discovery suggests that his subspecies may not be extinct, and that hybrid tortoises with significant Pinta Island lineage could be living elsewhere in the Galápagos, offering conservation scientists hope amid what can often be the bleak work of tracking disappearing species,” NBC reported at the time.
The tortoises were found by conservationists with the Galapagos Conservancy Inc., a nonprofit organization based in the U.S., who were on an expedition to Wolf Volcano, which towers 5,600 feet above Isabela Island.
“It’s thought that seafarers, including whalers and pirates, transported tortoises among different islands, contributing to the hybrid species found on Wolf Volcano and elsewhere within the island chain,” NBC says. “The conservancy estimates that the Galápagos Islands are home to up to 15 separate tortoise species.”
You can find out more about the giant tortoises of the Galapagos on a marlin fishing trip to the Enchanted Islands. Contact us for more information.