'Extinct' Galapagos tortoise found after 100 years

An adult female specimen of the Chelonoidis phantasticus species was found by an expedition led by the Galapagos Parks authority and the Galapagos Conservancy group

An adult female specimen of the Chelonoidis phantasticus species was found by an expedition led by the Galapagos Parks authority and the Galapagos Conservancy group

A living member of species of tortoise not seen in more than 110 years and feared to be extinct has been found in a remote part of the Galapagos island of Fernandina.

An adult female Fernandina Giant Tortoise, or Chelonoidis phantasticus, possibly more than 100 years old, was found on Fernandina Island by a joint expedition of the Galapagos National Park and the USA -based Galapagos Conservancy, Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment said in a statement Wednesday.

A 2015 assessment by IUCN found the "Fernandina habitat is largely dry xeric brushland at lower elevations, but much of that habitat has been destroyed by extensive recent lava flows".

The female has a large body, smooth shell and a pink head.

The Fernandina Giant Tortoise is one of 14 giant tortoise species in the Galapagos but only 10 are thought to have survived human colonisation.

In listing the Fernandina tortoise as possibly extinct, the conservation group said on its website that the species may have succumbed to "the frequent volcanic lava flows that almost cover the island". The tortoises have been killed over the past two centuries, both for food and for their oil, according to the Galapagos Conservatory.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has the Fernandina Giant Tortoise listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct.

Surveys and expeditions have turned up evidence of scat previously.

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The minister said that the animal had been believed extinct for over 100 years, but did not provide any further details.

The sighting came during an expedition to island of Fernandina in the western Ecuadorian region of the archipelago.

The team moved the tortoise in a boat to the Giant tortoise Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island where it will stay in a specially implemented pen for their stay.

It was named Chelonoidis donfaustoi in honour of Fausto Llerena who took care of "Lonesome George", a male Pinta Island tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii) and the last known individual of its species.

Experts believe she is not alone.

The Pacific Ocean Island is credited with contributing to the theory of evolution.

An Amber list is reserved for the next most critical group, followed by a green list.

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