The Floreana Island in the Galapagos provides home and security to some fascinating species of tortoises of various colors and sizes. However, the last truly pure Floreana tortoise succumbed to death in 1835. This event took place shortly after the father of biology himself, Charles Darwin, visited this piece of heaven and documented the Chelonoidis elephantopus. The causes of their extinctions are heavily linked to human over-consumption. However, scientists discovered that pirates left a few specimens of Galapagos giant tortoise on an extinct volcano. They intend to assure their safety in captivity.
The Galapagos Giant Tortoise Is Easy to Recognize by Its Saddleback-Like Shell
Nowadays, the Floreana Island still has a couple of large tortoises plodding the beaches. However, their domed shells gave them away as creatures imported from other parts of the world. The true natives of this island used to have shells in the shape of saddlebacks. This generous orifice allowed them to extend their long necks high upwards and feast on the tall vegetation that the extra-dry climate promotes around here.
However, geneticists managed to catch sight of these saddleback-like shells in another place called Wolf Volcano on Isabella. Even though the location is 100 miles away from the Floreana Island, DNA tests confirmed that these specimens have Floreana ancestors.
The Galapagos Islands National Park Opened a New Program to Repopulate the Island with Galapagos Descendants
Scientists believe that buccaneers and whalers hid a few members of Galapagos giant tortoise in this deserted corner of the world with the intention to pick them up later. As they never returned, the creatures started to thrive and populate in their relocation.
On Wednesday, the Galapagos Islands National Park announced a new breeding program with 32 such tortoises brought from the Wolf Volcano. The goal of this initiative is to encourage a medium-term repopulation within their homeland, Floreana Island. Although they are not pure breeds, these specimens still have strong genetic information from their giant ancestors.
Image source: 1