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‘Fantastic Giant Tortoise’ thought to be extinct was found alive

A rare species of giant tortoise was thought to be extinct for more than a century but was recently found alive and well on the Galapagos Islands.

The giant tortoise, chelonoidis phantasticus was thought to have died out more than 100 years ago as the last of it’s kind was discovered in 1906.

In 2019, Princeton researchers discovered a female tortoise on the Galápagos Fernandina Island that suggested the species known as the ‘fantastic giant tortoise’ may still be alive.

Last week, scientists compared the DNA of the female tortoise to that of the giant tortoise found in 1906 and found that the two were related.

The massive creatures can weigh as much as 417kg and can grow to be 1.3m long with a life span of 80-120 years.

The lead researcher for Princeton University, Stephen Gaughran said: ”Like many people, my initial suspicion was that this was not a native tortoise of Fernandina Island,”

“We saw – honestly, to my surprise – that Fernanda was very similar to the one that they found on that island more than 100 years ago, and both of those were very different from all of the other island tortoises.”

The researchers estimate that the tortoise is around 50 years old.

More to come.