'Extinct' tortoise found living in the Galapagos

  • @SteveAConnor

A species of giant tortoise that disappeared after being heavily hunted in the Galapagos more than a century ago may still be living on an island 200 miles away, a study has found.

Scientists believe the tortoise Chelonoidis elephantopus, which was native to Floreana Island, is still breeding among a much bigger population of another species of tortoise onIsabela Island, says a study published in the journal Current Biology.

Conservationists had thought C. elephantopus was driven to extinction soon after Charles Darwin's historic voyage to the Galapagos in 1835.

None can be found on Floreana, but a genetic study of 2,000 tortoises belonging to the closely related species of C. becki on Isabela Island has revealed 30 hybrid tortoises that could only have resulted if one of their parents had been a purebred C. elephantopus.