'Extinct' Giant Tortoise Last Witnessed Alive In 1906 Rediscovered After 113 Years

Mar 05, 2019

Flora and fauna are almost impossible to track in remote locations. The Galapagos Islands is one place that is home to a number of unusual animals. Marine iguanas, finches, flightless cormorants, and giant seals are just a few of these animals.

The name of the island is taken from a large creature with a shell. The ancient word means saddle in Spanish. This name was given by explorers in references to tortoise shell shapes.

Tortoises are perfectly suited to the rocky terrain of the island and eat from the vegetation that is present. The tortoise thrived on the island at one time and can live without food or water for as long as a year. The life expectancy of a tortoise can be more than 100 years and they can grow to be 500 pounds.


However, not long after the island was discovered, visitors began to exploit the tortoise. Laws were enacted to protect the tortoise in 1959 but the population of the creatures on the island had already been severely decimated.

Four species of the tortoise has been lost from the islands. The last of the lost species, Chelonoidis abingdonii, became extinct in 2012.

There are 15 known species of tortoises on the islands today and it was believed that no tortoises remained on four of the islands. These islands are Santa Fe, Floreana, Pinta, and Fernandina. Recently, a tortoise was found alive in Fernandina by a film crew working for the Extinct or Live show aired by the Animal Planet.

The tortoise was spotted on February 17, 2019. The tortoise was found in a patch of vegetation in Fernandina's lower island region. The animal is a female that is estimated to be more than 100 years old.

Washington Tapia is the GTRI director who oversaw the expedition. Tapia explains genetic studies will be conducted on the specimen to confirm it is of the Fernandina species.

The tortoise was a little underweight and was taken to Santa Cruz Island where there is a breeding center for giant turtles. Conservation specialist are hoping to find more of the species to mate them and increase the population on the island.

Were you surprised by the Animal Planet find on Fernandina Island? Do you think scientists will find more of the tortoise species there? Let us know in the comments and be sure to pass this article along to your friends and family – They will enjoy this miracle of nature.