A species of giant tortoise last seen more than 100 years ago and thought to be extinct was spotted on a Galapagos island Sunday, according to the government of Ecuador.
The Fernandina giant tortoise was found for the first time since 1906 by an expedition of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative, and researchers believe there may be more of the tortoises alive on Fernandina Island.
"This encourages us to strengthen our search plans to find other turtles, which will allow us to start a breeding program in captivity to recover this species," the director of the Galapagos National Park, Danny Rueda, said in a press release.
BREAKING NEWS! GC’s own @wacho_tapia just returned from Fernandina Island in #Galapagos, where they discovered a female #tortoise. Tortoises on Fernandina have been thought to be extinct for over 100 years, so this is a monumental finding! Photos © GNPD, W. Tapia pic.twitter.com/fhQpIzsHmM— GalapagosConservancy (@SaveGalapagos) February 20, 2019
Scientists transported the adult female, thought to be around 100 years old, back to the Giant Turtle Breeding Center in Santa Cruz for genetic testing to verify that she is, in fact, one of the Fernandina Island species of giant tortoise.
Fernandina is the third-largest island in the Galapagos archipelago, and its volcano, La Cumbre, is one of the world's most active.
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