Lonesome George may not be so lonesome after all

May 02, 2007
Lonesome George may not be so lonesome after all

A Macquarie University scientist has helped prove that Lonesome George, named by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's rarest living creature may in fact have relatives living nearby.

Since 2001, Dr Luciano Beheregaray of Macquarie University's Department of Biological Sciences has been analysing giant tortoise samples taken by a team of international scientists in co-operation with the Galápagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Of the 14 giant tortoise species that once lived on the various islands of the Galápagos, three have become extinct. Lonesome George, who was relocated in 1972 to the Charles Darwin Research Station, was believed to be the sole living representative of another species, which existed only on the island of Pinta.

However, in their just published paper in the renowned journal Current Biology, Beheregaray and colleagues describe how their DNA analysis unexpectedly identified a tortoise on Volcano Wolf, Isabela Island, that has half of its genes in common with Lonesome George.

"The results are great news for George and his species. There are over 1,000 tortoises living on Volcano Wolf. Finding additional individuals of pure Pinta ancestry on Wolf would require an expedition with a team of about 20 people and three to four weeks of exhaustive sampling on the volcano," says Beheregaray.

"Tortoises from other islands were probably taken to Isabela as part of the whaling activities in the Pacific during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Now, with the results of our advanced DNA approaches we are in a position to envision a captive breeding program capable of reintroducing George's species onto Pinta Island."

Source: Macquarie University

Explore further: New England Aquarium offering penguins 'honeymoon suites'

Related Stories

Microsoft, Yahoo update search agreement

1 minute ago

Microsoft and Yahoo have updated their search partnership to allow more flexibility in searches and end Yahoo's exclusive sales force role with advertisers.

New transitional stem cells discovered

1 hour ago

Pre-eclampsia is a disease that affects 5 to 8 percent of pregnancies in America. Complications from this disease can lead to emergency cesarean sections early in pregnancies to save the lives of the infants and mothers. ...

Recommended for you

Telling the time of day by color

Apr 17, 2015

Research by scientists at The University of Manchester has revealed that the colour of light has a major impact on how the brain clock measures time of day and on how the animals' physiology and behavior adjust accordingly. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nilbud
not rated yet May 30, 2008
Just in time to be exterminated by lava.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.