January 12th, 2012
After 150 years of being “extinct,” a species of giant tortoise may be on the verge of a comeback, scientists have recently reported.
The lost species, called Chelonoidis elephantopus, is closely related to the Chelonoidis becki, which lives on Isabela Island, the largest of the Galápagos The C. elephantopus was last spotted some 150 years ago.
The two species of tortoise have different shaped shells.
Because of genetic differences between the hybrid tortoises, the researchers estimate that at least 38 C. elephantopus left behind hybrid descendants on the Galápagos Islands, and many may still be alive.
If the researchers can find this hidden population, they could capture individuals to set up a breeding program to regenerate the species.
For more information on the Galápagos Islands and Ecaudor, click here.
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