An expedition to the island of Fernandina of the Galapagos Islands has found a female of the species Chelonoidis phantasticus, or the Fernandina giant tortoise.

The tortoise was orginally thought to be extinct, as a member of the species had not been seen since 1906.

In even better news, the team that found the Fernandina giant tortoise believes there are more alive on the island, based off of droppings and tracks.

TheScientist reports:

“‘The photos from the team clearly show a moderately saddle-backed, old female about half to two-thirds the size of the known male. Pending genetic confirmation, this is almost undoubtedly the lost Fernandina Giant Tortoise,’ says Anders Rhodin from the Turtle Conservancy and International Union for Conservation of Nature, in the statement.

The team members suspect more tortoises may live on Fernandina because of scat and tracks they observed there. The expedition included members from the Galapagos National Park, the Galapagos Conservancy, and Animal Planet, which funded the search and will feature it on an episode of the show ‘Extinct or Alive.’”

The end goal is to of course breed more of the species, if their suspicions that additional tortoises are alive proves true.

Females can store sperm for a long period of time, according to Duke University professor of conservation ecology Stuart Pimm.

This gives hope for the species, and biodiversity of the Galapagos!

To read the story in TheScientist, click here.


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