Friday, November 7, 2014

Galapagos Island Giant Tortoises Saved From Near Extinction

In 2012, the 100 year old ancient tortoise Lonesome George went extinct.  Lonesome George was the last living member of the Pinta Island giant tortoise subspecies.  The Pinta Island is home to 1,500 of the giant tortoises but fifty years ago the island was homes to thousands of giant tortoises.  In the 18th and 19th century, giant tortoises were captured by buccaneers.  The tortoises can survive without food or water for an entire year, so they were taken on ships for meat.  Without much food to eat, the tortoises stopped walking about the low rocky island.

When the island was declared a nature reserve in 1959, conservationists thought that the tortoises were extinct but they found the last 14 roaming the island.  The tortoise is one of the largest species of its kind.  The size and shape of the tortoise depends on the island.  The tortoise that lives in humid areas are generally bigger, while the tortoises in the drier areas are smaller.  The tortoises also have extended necks and larger limbs.  These ancient species inspired Charles Darwin's theory on evolution.

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