“A tortoise found in the Galapagos Islands in 2019 has been determined to belong to a species that scientists believed was extinct.
DNA testing has confirmed that the female tortoise found on Fernandina Island is a member of the species Chelonoidis phantasticus. It had been “presumed extinct since 1906,” according to the Turtle Conservancy.
“We have been able to confirm the tortoise is Chelonoidis phantasticus, a species that we believed to have gone extinct over 100 years ago,” said Danny Rueda, director of the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador.
He said the elderly female tortoise was found on Feb. 17, 2019, but until recent genetic tests were conducted, it was unclear what species the tortoise belonged to.
Geneticists from Yale University compared samples from the female tortoise with those from a male Chelonoidis phantasticus collected during an expedition in 1906 by researchers from the California Academy of Sciences.
The two samples were found to be a match, confirming the female’s identity as a member of the species.
Rueda said this discovery gives the Galapagos Islands “great hope for the future of a conservation program.”
During recent research missions, excrement samples gathered by researchers may have been left by other Chelonoidis phantasticus specimens, he said. Another expedition is planned this year to search for members of the species….”