World News

Tortoise feared extinct found on remote Galapagos island

Tortoise feared extinct found on remote Galapagos island

Ecuadorian park guards and a United States conservation organisation have found a tortoise whose species was believed extinct for a century in one of the islands of the Galapagos archipelago.

The last known Fernandina Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus) was seen alive was 1906, CNN reported.

For the first time in more than 110 years, the team spotted an adult female Fernandina giant tortoise.

Fernandina is the third largest Galapagos island and features the La Cumbre volcano, one of the most active in the world.

The tortoise has been taken to a breeding centre on a different island for health checks and for some genetic testing.

"While giant tortoises once thrived on most of the continents of the world", the website says, "the Galapagos tortoises now represent one of the remaining two groups of giant tortoises in the entire world - the other group living on Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean".

A ministry statement said conservationists were hopeful other members of the species were on the island, judging by tracks and spores they found.

More news: Drone sighting halts flights at Ireland's Dublin Airport

The tortoise was discovered during a joint expedition of the Galapagos National Park and the US-based Galapagos Conservancy.

Thankfully, this recent discovery proves that humans don't know all there is to know about the Galapagos, and that there could be more Georges out there. Since then, researchers have found some evidence of Fernandina giant tortoise activity.

It said the female is more than 100 years old.

Galapagos was declared a National Heritage Site in 1979 in recognition of its unique species, animals and plants, terrestrial and marine that served as the basis for the English scientist Charles Darwin to develop his theory of the evolution of species.

While filming an episode of Extinct or Alive for Animal Planet, the show's host Forrest Galante, was trekking on a remote island in search of the tortoise.

The tortoise was said to be in mostly good health, albeit underweight.

A spokesman for Galapagos Conservancy said: "While thought to be extinct due to volcanic eruptions in past centuries, there have been anecdotal observations indicating that there may indeed still be a very few left on the island".