November 20, 2021).- The Directorate of the Galapagos National Park (PNG) was the one who announced the wonderful find and detailed that it is an adult female giant tortoise and was found on Fernandina Island.
Fernandina Island is the third largest, and youngest, island of the Galápagos Islands, as well as the furthest west. Like the others, the island was formed by the Galápagos hotspot.
The American Yale University carried out the genetic studies and the respective comparison of the DNA with another specimen extracted from that same island but in the year 1906 and it was thanks to this analysis that it was possible to determine that the female belonged to the species called “Chelonoidis phantasticus ”, considered extinct more than a century ago.
The turtle was transferred to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, which the PNG has on Santa Cruz Island.
Washington Tapia, director of the Galapagos Conservancy, revealed that the tortoise, named Fernanda, is old as it is between 80 or perhaps 100 years old.
Its shell measures 54 centimeters and although it is a good measure, the reality is that it is not that large compared to other specimens that can measure up to 1.5 meters in length.
She was found with malnutrition because she was underweight, however, over time she has gained volume, which has allowed her to regain her health.
Restore colony of giant tortoises
This discovery has now become the great opportunity for scientists to restore this species, which now only exist in this part of the Ecuadorian archipelago.
Tapia pointed out that a captive breeding program could now be started to repopulate the island of origin.
For his part, the director of the PNG, Danny Rueda spoke about planning a trip to Fernandina Island so that in the event of finding other individuals of this same species, the repopulation project would take place.
“We are planning a large expedition in the second half of this year to Fernandina Island, where samples of turtle droppings have been found, which gives us hope of the existence of other individuals of the species found.”
And it is that as James Gibbs, vice president of Science and Conservation of the same NGO pointed out: “the rediscovery of this lost species may have occurred just in time to save it.”
Source: El Sol de México