Scientists in Peru find 'extinct' turtle on Galapagos Islands

Scientists found the giant animal. Credit CEN

Scientists found the giant animal. Credit CEN

A species of giant tortoise last seen over a 100 years ago has been discovered on the Galapagos Islands.

"A huge celebration ensued as all parties involved were able to positively identify the animal in question as an older female C.Phantasticus based on shell morphology and facial characteristics", the network said in a statement, adding that the find was later verified by a team of global turtle biologists at the Turtle Conservancy.

Experts believe there may be more of the tortoises on Fernandina island since traces and excrements of other tortoises were also observed by members of the expedition.

The team moved the turtle in a boat to the Giant Turtle Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island where it will stay in a specially implemented pen for their stay. "BREAKING NEWS! GC's own @wacho_tapia just returned from Fernandina Island in #Galapagos, where they discovered a female #tortoise", the tweet read.

The Chelonoidis phantasticus species is native to Fernandina, which is uninhabited, topped by an active volcano, and one of the youngest islands in the chain.

If they locate male tortoises, Rueda Cordova added, they will begin the process of breeding the species in captivity.

The archipelago of volcanic origin hosts unique and endemic species, especially giant tortoises, marine iguanas, penguins, cormorants and sea lions.

Genetic tests will be carried out to confirm the tortoise was indeed a member of the long-lost species, it said. The last sighting of the species was in 1906.

"Pending genetic confirmation, this is nearly undoubtedly the lost Fernandina Giant Tortoise", said the Turtle Conservancy's Anders Rhodin.

Do you think you could find a hiding giant tortoise?

Fernandina is the third largest island of Galapagos and has an area of 638 square kilometres.

According to the Galapagos Conservancy, only two groups of giant tortoises remain around the world - those on the Galapagos Islands and others on Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean.

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