A tortoise related to Lonesome George discovered in the Galapágos Islands

The famous Lonesome George was the last of his kind, but this incredible discovery has raised the hopes of scientists...

No longer extinct?

This newly discovered tortoise is related to an extinct species: the Chelonoidis abingdonii, that of the famous Lonesome George. The last of his species, he died in 2012, taking with him any hope of conservation. However, in January 2020, nearly 8 years after the species was officially declared extinct, scientists discovered this female who shares a genetic link to the extinct species.

She’s believed to be a direct descendent of a purebred tortoise who may still be living somewhere in the north of Isabela Island. On this island in the Galápagos, scientists were leading an expedition on the Wolf volcano. In that area, whalers and pirates used to abandon tortoises taken from neighboring islands when they needed to lighten the ships’ load.

On site, the teams also discovered 29 tortoises that shared partial lineage with another extinct species: the Chelonoidis nigra. All of the newly discovered tortoises were transported to a breeding center on Santa Cruz Island, where they should be studied and implemented in a breeding program.