Giant tortoise believed extinct for 100 years discovered in Galápagos

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A giant tortoise species that was thought to be extinct, was rediscovered after 100 years. The Fernandina tortoise ‘officially’ disappeared more than a century ago. However, earlier this year a group of experts have spotted a female of this so thought extinct species. It happened on the Galápagos island of Fernandina.

More gladdening is that the scientists also believe there are more other individuals of the species since they have found track that lead them to this hypothesis.

“For me it was the most important achievement of my life because I have been working on tortoise conservation for 30 years,” the director of the nonprofit Galápagos Conservancy’s Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative and leader of the expedition, Washington Tapia told to the National Geographic. “This was basically my Oscar.”

As about the female they’ve found, it has been taken to a giant tortoise centre on Santa Cruz Island, the Guardian reported. According to the expedition members, it is thought to be more than 100 years old. DNA samples were also been taken in order to officially determinate the giant creature is indeed a Fernandina tortoise. While the whole process could take a few months, the scientists declared there’s no doubt regarding the species.

According to the expedition group, the last interaction with the species dates back in 1906 and despite countless expedition were made since then, there were no sights of Chelonoidis phantasticus, National Geographic reported.

Now Tapia and the other members of the expedition are trying to conserve the species and to help them to repopulate the island, as their role could be highly important to the ecosystem.

“Tortoises in the Galápagos are like ecosystem engineers,” Tapia declared. “They contribute to seed dispersal and mold the ecosystem. That ecological role is so important!”