Galapagos Researchers Find ‘Extinct’ Tortoises Alive

A giant tortoise named "Lonesome George" is seen in the Galapagos islands, an archipelago off Ecuador's Pacific coast. The remote islands draw an estimated 100,000 visitors a year eager for a glimpse of the unique creatures and flora that Darwin called "a little world within itself." (AP Photo/Galapagos National Park, File)

A giant tortoise named "Lonesome George" is seen in the Galapagos islands, an archipelago off Ecuador's Pacific coast. The remote islands draw an estimated 100,000 visitors a year eager for a glimpse of the unique creatures and flora that Darwin called "a little world within itself." (AP Photo/Galapagos National Park, File)

Scientists have located members of a giant Galapagos tortoise species thought to have gone extinct in the 1840s. Researchers who tested the DNA of 1,600 tortoises on the Galapagos island of Isabela found that at least 84 were offspring of a species that originally lived on Floreana Island. It was previously believed that poachers had wiped out the tortoises. “To have a species that was thought to be extinct in the middle of the 1800s come back is amazing,” one researcher told the paper.

Whalers decimated the Floreana population of tortoises in the years after naturalist Charles Darwin made his famous voyage in 1835. Researchers speculate that some escaped from the ships and made their way to Isabela, where their descendants now survive. Researchers eventually hope to resettle them back on their native island.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com

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