Giant Tortoise Species Thought to Be Extinct Found Alive in the Galapagos

It’s no secret that humans are basically running planet earth into the ground. While recent news stories would have you believe that much of this is a recent, post-industrial disaster, we’ve actually been ruining things for far longer than you may think. Like, hundreds and hundreds of years, in fact.

One of the first environmental disasters enacted by humans was colonisation. Our moving into previously uninhabited areas and turning them into villages, towns and cities wreaked havoc on the wildlife. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the Galapagos Islands. When humans made moves there, the animal kingdom really took a hit. Almost every single species of tortoise was wiped out – and one thought to be gone was the Fernandina Giant.

However, in a recent bit of unexpected great news, it turns out, we were wrong. Ecuador’s Environmental Minister has made a statement saying the rare breed has been discovered, alive and well (and really, really big).

The Galapagos are best known for their wildlife.

There is a huge amount of weird and wonderful plant and animal species on the islands, many of which are not found anywhere else on earth.

However, the islands took a big hit when humans showed up.

The colonization of the Galapagos Islands caused a huge disruption in their natural order. The humans quickly got to work messing up the islands carefully balanced ecosystem.

One animal that felt the brunt of it was the tortoise.

Humans destroyed much of the natural habitat of the tortoise. On top of that, the reptiles were hunted for meat and even for sport.

The numbers of the animals dwindled.

Of the hundreds of different tortoise species indigenous to the Galapagos islands, only ten are thought to have survived human colonization.

Many of these species are small in number and live only in captivity.

So, let’s just say, the future for the Galapagos tortoise population wasn’t looking so bright.

Galapagos tortoises are an impressive bunch.

They tend to be extremely big, and live for an extremely long time. They’re almost other-worldly, or like a harking back to a bygone era.

The Galapagos Islands once had at least fourteen species of giant tortoise.

The majestic creatures inhabited nine of the different islands which make up the archipelago. All were large and slow-moving, but has slight differences in shell shape.

The creatures are weirdly very cute.

They have a withered, old-man-esque appearance, but their inquisitive eyes and sweet little head movements make them very endearing to watch.

A recent discovery has given us some much needed good news.

A species of the giant tortoise thought likely to be extinct has been discovered, alive.

The Fernandina tortoise (or chelonoidis phantasticus) has not been sighted for over a hundred years.

These tortoises are indigenous to the island of Fernandina.

Fernandina is the youngest of the Galapagos islands, and is therefore still the most volcanically active. The frequent eruptions led most to believe the tortoise could not have survived there.

But this turned out not the be the case.

A research team filming for the upcoming Animal Planet show Extinct or Alive? discovered the long-missing tortoise hiding underneath a bush.

 

Source:  22 Words

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