A giant Galapagos tortoise species thought to have gone extinct in the 1840s may still extinct on Isabela Island, a Volcanic Island in the Pacific. This tortoise is known as the species which Charles Darwin used to promote his theory of evolution in 1835. When looking at many different species within the Galapagos, the giant tortoise showed why they, along with other tortoise species, were more adapt to thriving in the environment of the Galapagos.
50 people spent 2 weeks DNA testing 1600 tortoises weighing in at around 400 pounds each until they ran out of test tubes. This amounted to about 20% of the island’s population. 84 are believed to be direct offspring of the Floreana tortoise which was believed to be extinct. The tortoises discovered have so far been Floreana and Isabela hybrid tortoises, however, they hope to return to the island in search of a Floreana purebred. If they cannot find this purebred, they will attempt to breed the tortoises to bring about a pure line of the extinct Floreana tortoise.
These tortoises are extremely important to the eco-system of this island. For example, the critically endangered prickly pear cactus can only sprout after its seeds have gone through the gut of these tortoises. Everything within this environment is highly dependent on each other and the encounter with this thought to be extinct species is an incredible discovery for the health of the Galapagos.