After all, it looks like Lonesome George isn’t the last of its kind. Researchers with the Yale University say that the Galapagos tortoises like Lonesome George could be revived. Or better said, they were never extinct. Mind-boggling, right?
Lonesome George, the last giant tortoise on the Pinta Island, died this summer in the Galapagos. It was news that went viral worldwide, since Lonesome George was the last of his species. It turns out, that its death isn’t the complete disappearance of the species, because scientists believe the Galapagos tortoises could be revived.
The Pinta Island tortoise aka Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni was thought to be exclusive to that particular island, but according to Yale researchers some subspecies may actually survive. Yale University released a press release about its scientists’ research on the existence of Pinta Island hybrids. DNA analysis found that 17 tortoises that lived in the northern part of the Isabella Island had the same genes as Lonesome George and its extinct brothers and sisters.
“It would be the first time that a species was recovered after having been declared extinct” said Edwin Naula, director of the Galapagos National Park. “This is going to take about 100 to 150 years” Naula told The Huffington Post about the revival of Lonesome George’s species.
The hybrids on the Isabella Island aren’t exactly a new discovery, since scientists knew about them since 2008, when they were looking for a potential mate for Lonesome George. The idea was however abandoned, since there wasn’t much hope that the 100-year-old Galapagos Tortoise could have successfully passed on its genes to offspring.
Yale researchers say that the nine females, three males and five youths carrying the genes of the Galapagos Giant Tortoise were brought to the Isabella Island by sailors. They were discovered thanks to a DNA analysis of 1,600 tortoises on Wolf Volcano.
In the 18th century, Giant Tortoises like Lonesome George had a population close to 300,000. In 2012, the last of them had died, but its genes are carrying on. On the overall there were 14 species of giant tortoises that thrived in the islands, but now there are only 10 that survive. On the overall, there are 20,000 giant tortoises living in the Galapagos Island, a number that is the result of the program run by the Galapagos national park and the Charles Darwin Foundation.