Geneticists of Yale University on Tuesday confirmed that the giant tortoise found in 2019 in the Galapagos Islands belongs to the species that was believed to be extinct 112 years ago. Known as the Fernandina Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus) the reptile - a female - was found during a 2019 joint expedition of the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) and Galapagos Conservancy.
“It was believed to have gone extinct more than 100 years ago! We have reconfirmed its existence. The tortoise of the species Chelonoidis phantasticus was found in Galapagos”, Ecuadorean Environment Minister Gustavo Marique tweeted.
The tortoise was last reported 112 years ago and was long considered lost forever, Galapagos Conservancy's press release read. The Galapagos National Park is preparing an expedition to search for more of the giant tortoises in an attempt to save the species.
The Lonesome George, a giant tortoise, found on the Pinta Island died in 2012 without leaving an offspring.
The current population of giant tortoises is estimated at 60,000, according to data from the Galapagos National Park.