Genetic testing has shown that the giant tortoise found in the Galapagos Islands is an extinct species. Scientists until now believed that the ‘chelonoidis phantasticus’ had become extinct more than a century ago, as a turtle of that species was last seen in 1906. Now one more has surfaced.
The female turtle was spotted in 2019 during an expedition on Fernandina Island. The animal’s DNA was compared with the remains of a male of the species chelonoidis phantasticus. Therefore, some scientists were able to prove that the female belongs to the same species, also called the ‘Fernandina giant tortoise’.
Ecuadorian Environment Minister Gustavo Manrique shared his joy at the news on Twitter. “It was believed that the animal had been extinct for over 100 years! There is still hope!” Said the minister.
The female tortoise, estimated to be over 100 years old, is currently residing at a breeding site on Santa Cruz Island.
Scientists have found imprints and droppings on Fernandina Island that show more turtles of the species in the wild. According to the Galapagos National Park director, a new expedition will be started to locate possible congeners of the turtle.