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Giant Tortoise Missed for 100 Years Found in Ecuador

Giant Tortoise Missed for 100 Years Found in Ecuador

Saturday, 23 February, 2019 - 06:15
An Eastern Santa Cruz tortoise, Chelonoidis donfaustoi, is pictured on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters October 21, 2015 REUTERS/Adalgisa Caccone/Handout via Reuters
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
A giant tortoise believed extinct for 100 years was found in the Fernandina Island, Ecuador.

A joint expedition including researchers from the US and other countries from the Galapagos National Park, had found an adult female Chelonoidis phantasticus, also known as the Fernandina giant tortoise.

The team took the tortoise, which is probably more than 100 years old, to a breeding center for giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island, where it will stay in a specially designed pen, the Guardian newspaper reported.

An Australian study had confirmed that humans played a major role in the disappearance of giant turtles from Earth nearly 3,000 years ago. The Australian scientific team discovered skeletons belonging to giant turtles, but without skulls or shields on the island of Vanuatu, eastern Australia.

These skeletons date back to 200 years after human settlement on the island, which indicates that humans hunted turtles until extinction.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has the Fernandina giant tortoise listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct. The only other living member of the species was found in 1906, the group said.

Since then, expeditions have encountered tortoise bite marks on cacti, and there was a possible unconfirmed sighting in 2009. But Sunday’s discovery was the first confirmed sighting.

Fernandina is the third largest Galapagos Island and features the La Cumbre volcano, one of the most active in the world. The archipelago lies in the Pacific Ocean about 1,000 Km off Ecuador.

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