Giant tortoise feared extinct for over 100 years found on Galapagos Islands

Scientists found the giant animal. Credit CEN

Scientists found the giant animal. Credit CEN

A rare species of giant tortoise not seen in 113 years and feared to be extinct has been found in a remote island in the Galapagos.

"A huge celebration ensued as all parties involved were able to positively identify the animal in question as an older female C.Phantasticus based on shell morphology and facial characteristics", the network said in a statement, adding that the find was later verified by a team of global turtle biologists at the Turtle Conservancy. Investigators think there may be more members of the species on the island because of tracks and scat they found.

Conservationists have taken measures to save the tortoise by moving it to a breeding centre on the nearby island of Santa Cruz. "BREAKING NEWS! GC's own @wacho_tapia just returned from Fernandina Island in #Galapagos, where they discovered a female #tortoise", the tweet read. A species of tortoise which was thought to be extinct (not pictured) has been discovered.

The expedition's leader said genetic studies will be conducted to "reconfirm" the reptile is a Fernandina Giant Tortoise.

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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, Marcelo Mata wrote.

Researchers believe that their environment could be one of the reasons for the species being under threat, with unsafe lava being present on the volcanic island.

George become an icon of the islands, 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the coast of South America. The last sighting of the species was in 1906. After his death, his body was stuffed and is now displayed at the Charles Darwin Research Center in the Galapagos.

A spokesman for Galapagos Conservancy said: "While thought to be extinct due to volcanic eruptions in past centuries, there have been anecdotal observations indicating that there may indeed still be a very few left on the island". With no natural predators, they spread across the islands and split into different species.

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