Scientists in Peru find tortoise believed to be extinct
CGTN
00:51

Ecuadorian park guards and a U.S. conservation organization have found a tortoise, whose species was believed extinct for a century, in one of the islands of the Galapagos archipelago.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador, the tortoise Chelonoidis Phantasticus, a female over a hundred years old, was found on Sunday in a vegetation zone on Fernandina Island.

"For the Galapagos, it really is perhaps the most important find in the last century," said Washington Tapia, the scientist at Galapagos Conservancy.

The discovery was made by a joint expedition between the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park and the US organization Galapagos Conservancy. The team moved the tortoise in a boat to the Giant tortoise Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island where it will stay in a specially implemented pen.

A specimen of the giant Galapagos tortoise Chelonoidis Phantasticus, thought to have gone extinct about a century ago, is seen at the Galapagos National Park. /VCG Photo

A specimen of the giant Galapagos tortoise Chelonoidis Phantasticus, thought to have gone extinct about a century ago, is seen at the Galapagos National Park. /VCG Photo

The researchers believe that there could be more tortoises of this species because they have found tracks and excrement in other areas of Fernandina Island, in the west of the archipelago. 

"We have to assemble a new expedition to return to the site and inspect if there is another individual of the same species," said Danny Rueda Cordova, Ecosystems Director at the Galapagos National Park. If they locate male tortoises, Rueda Cordova added, they will begin the process of breeding the species in captivity. 

A specimen of the giant Galapagos tortoise Chelonoidis Phantasticus, thought to have gone extinct about a century ago, is seen at the Galapagos National Park. /VCG Photo

A specimen of the giant Galapagos tortoise Chelonoidis Phantasticus, thought to have gone extinct about a century ago, is seen at the Galapagos National Park. /VCG Photo

Fernandina is the third largest island of Galapagos and has an area of 638 square kilometers. Galapagos has 13 main islands and at least 17 islets in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) from the Ecuadorian mainland.

The archipelago of volcanic origin hosts unique and endemic species in the world, especially giant tortoises, marine iguanas, penguins, cormorants and sea lions.

Galapagos was declared a National Heritage Site in 1979 in recognition of its unique species, animals and plants, terrestrial and marine that served as the basis for the English scientist Charles Darwin to develop his theory of the evolution of species.

Source(s): AP