The giant tortoise, named "Fran," was discovered on Fernandina Island.

After a major effort by scientists, a single galápagos tortoise—a species believed to have been completely extinct—was discovered on Fernandina Island. Experts at Yale University conducted genetic tests to prove that Fran, a 100-year-old tortoise, is in fact a member of a species that was previously assumed to be extinct for over 112 years. Now, researchers are very quickly trying to find a mate in order to preserve this species.

"One of the greatest mysteries in Galápagos has been the Fernandina Island Giant Tortoise. Rediscovering this lost species may have occurred just in the nick of time to save it. We now urgently need to complete the search of the island to find other tortoises," said Dr. James Gibbs, Vice President of Science and Conservation for the Galápagos Conservancy and a tortoise expert at the State University of New York.

fern the 112 year old galapagos giant tortoise
Credit: Courtesy of Galapagos Conservatory

If any additional members of this species are found, they will be rescued and transported to a breeding center on Santa Cruz Island. However, the discovery and rescue of more tortoises is no easy feat, considering the fact that Fran was found near an active volcano and in a landscape made up of hard volcanic debris.

"We desperately want to avoid the fate of Lonesome George," said Danny Rueda Córdova, Director of the Galápagos National Park Directorate in a press release. "My team from the Park and Galápagos Conservancy are planning a series of major expeditions to return to Fernandina Island to search for additional tortoises beginning this September."


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