A species of giant tortoises, believed to have gone extinct more than 100 years ago, are possibly getting a new chance at life. Scientists believe that they may be able to bring back the tortoises that were once unique to the Floreana Island in the Galapagos.
After humans arrived in the Galapagos, the tortoise populations were decimated as a result of hunting and the introduction of foreign species, such as rats, that could prey on the young. It’s believed that there was once about 15 different species alive at the time. However, only about 11 of them still exist now.
Recently, conservation biologists discovered that there are not only living descendants of the once-believed extinct tortoises still in existence but also that there are actually purebred specimens still living today. As a result, they are hoping that they can regrow the population through careful and selective breeding.
23 of the animals have been collected and taken to a breeding center where they will be introduced to 44 other tortoises that were previously collected on a past expedition to the islands. If the breeding program is successful, the researchers hope to reintroduce the tortoises to the island and return them to their once-natural state.
To give you a little more information, these are the same tortoises that were documented by Darwin during his visit to the Galapagos. The are a unique species because they have a saddle-shaped shell, allowing them to raise their necks to reach higher vegetation. It is believed that their populations were almost completely destroyed just years after Darwin’s visit.
This is a very exciting announcement that is made possible only by advancements made in science and technology. Let us know how you feel about the possible reintroduction of the species in the comments section.