STATES CHRONICLE – You probably all heard about Lonesome George, the Galapagos Tortoise who died a few years back at the age 100. He was so dubbed because he was the last of his species, and with him dead, so became his entire race. But possibly not for long. Scientists from Galapagos Conservancy are trying to have the Galapagos Tortoise race to be brought back via different species.
Lonesome George, the last living member of the Pinta Island saddleback tortoises, was found alone in 1971 on the Pinta Island in the Galapagos. He was the only tortoise found alive on the island, so he was moved by experts to Santa Cruz Island for its own safety.
He lived there for 41 years and despite the experts’ attempts to have him breed, he was too far gone due to the deaths of every other member of his species, so he died the way he lived – alone, at what the experts say was the nice, round age of 100.
This was a tragedy, and people worldwide sent grief letters, stated charities, and even organized memorial services.
But now, due to a discovery made in 2008, scientists think they can bring the species back from extinction.
In the tortoises found alive on Pinta Island, scientists found large quantities of Pinta tortoise DNA. This led them to believe that a large part of the tortoise population was actually breeding at some point with the now extinct tortoises before they went the way of the dodo.
Further studies also led the scientists to believe that some of the examined tortoises were actually related to Curious George further down the family tree.
This led them to want to attempt something.
Over the next 10 years, the experts are going to carefully breed individuals from Lonesome George’s potential family line, in an attempt to genetically recreate the now extinct Pinta Island saddleback tortoises.
32 tortoises, 11 males and 21 females, found to contain 95% of the extinct species’ DNA have already been brought to a breeding center on the island.
From there, the tortoise experts are going to try to breed the specimens so that the genetic material from the extinct race is the one being transmitted on, and they hope that in a matter of 5 to 10 years, they will bring back Lonesome George’s species.
Image source: Wikimedia