The Galápagos Islands are known for their mixture of flora and fauna. Surprisingly, this island has been home to a giant tortoise that remained out of sight for more than a hundred years. The tortoise of the Chelonoidis phantasticus appeared on Fernandina Island. This species was lastly seen in 1906.
Fernandina is one of the three largest islands in Galápagos Island. Even though it is rich in flora and fauna, this species was thought to be lost forever.
The female tortoise was found during a joint expedition between the Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Conservancy in 2019. Yale University Scientists identified the tortoise as the Fernandina Giant Tortoise, or Chelonoidis phantasticus, after comparing her DNA to a specimen extracted in 1906 when the last of the species was seen.
“One of the greatest mysteries in Galápagos has been the Fernandina Island Giant Tortoise,” says Dr. James Gibbs, vice president of science and conservation for the Galápagos Conservancy. “Rediscovering this lost species may have occurred just in the nick of time to save it.”
The appearance of this tortoise brought back the he hope that there might be others out there. Now, conservationists are in search of more giant tortoises, and hope to find a male mate in order to save the species from extinction.