LIMA: A Fernandina giant tortoise, presumed to be extinct since 1906, has been finally spotted.
Chelonoidis Phantasticus – an adult female member of species of tortoise – was hiding in the brush of a volcano in the Galapagos Islands and was identified by the look of her shell and face.
The tortoise was discovered during a joint expedition of the Galapagos National Park and the US-based Galapagos Conservancy.
This particular species of the tortoise was not seen in more than 110 years and feared to be extinct.
Ecuador’s Environment Ministry confirmed in a statement that ”an adult female Chelonoidis phantasticus, also known as the Fernandina Giant Tortoise, was spotted on Sunday by a joint expedition of the Galapagos National Park and the US–based Galapagos Conservancy.”
Investigators think there may be more members of the species on the island because of tracks and scat they found. The team took the tortoise, likely more than 100 years old, to a breeding center for giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island where it will stay in a specially designed pen.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the Fernandina Giant Tortoise as critically endangered and possibly extinct.
The only other living member of the species was found in 1906, the group said.
Since then, several expeditions have encountered tortoise scat and bite marks on cacti, and there was a possible unconfirmed sighting in 2009.
But Sunday’s discovery was the first confirmed sighting and it has raised the possibility of finding more members of the rare species.
The Galapagos archipelago, which lies in the Pacific Ocean about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) off Ecuador’s mainland, hosts unique species and wildlife whose characteristics helped Charles Darwin develop his theory of evolution.