“Lonesome George”, the Last Pinta Island Giant Tortoise, Dies at 100
by Mark Brown
Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island tortoise in the world and an icon for Galapagos conservation, has died. His death renders the subspecies Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni extinct.
George was first seen on the Galapagos island of Pinta in 1971, by Hungarian mollusk researcher József Vágvölgyi. George was the very last of his indigenous subspecies, after introduced feral goats had devastated the island’s vegetation.
He soon became an icon for conservation on the island group, and researchers attempted to get Lonesome George to mate. He shacked up with two females of another tortoise subspecies, Chelonoidis nigra becki, in the hope that his genotype would survive in any offspring.
The various attempts proved fruitless, as all the eggs failed to hatch. Nevertheless, two females from the Espanola tortoise population (the species most closely related to Pinta tortoises genetically) were with George until the end.
George, who was believed to be more than 100 years old, was found dead in his corral at the Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, by members of the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS)…
(read more: Wired Science) (photo: putneymark)