BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Scientists declare that they have found a method by which the extinct Galapagos tortoise could be revived.
The tortoises that used to live on the Galapagos Islands were indeed spectacular, with their size being reminiscent of huge creatures like the dinosaurs. But, sadly, with the demise of Lonesome George – the last remaining specimen – three years ago, the species became extinct.
There used to be eight types of Galapagos tortoise, but now there are only five left. The Galapagos tortoise thrived until the 16th century, reaching numbers of 250,000, but that number was down to 3,000 in the 1970s.
The main causes why species go extinct are pollution, illegal hunting or changes in the reproduction behavior of the animals. Unfortunately, there are many other species in the area that are either endangered or extinct.
In fact, one other species of Galapagos tortoise has been extinct since the 19th century. It is the tortoise that lived on Floreana Island and was last seen by Charles Darwin. But luckily, scientists believe that they can bring this one back as well.
They believe they may have discovered a method to restore both species. During a 2008 survey, a population of tortoises was found on Isabela Island, close to the Pinta Island of Lonesome George. Of the ones tested, 17 turned out to have a similar DNA to the tortoises of Pinta.
This has suggested the possibility that even some of the tortoises descended from George might still be alive, since the animals are known to live for up to 150 years.
Sailors are believed to have displaced the species from Pinta to Isabela. Over a century ago, they used the Pinta tortoises to survive and severely depleted the island’s population. They also dumped some of the turtles close to Isabela Island, which would explain how the specimens found in 2008 got their DNA.
The species will not be a 100% recreation of the Galapagos turtle, unfortunately, but there is hope that it will contain a portion of 95% of the original genetic material. The scientists are also hopeful that it will have conservation value.
Image source: www.upload.wikipedia.org