Giant tortoise considered extinct found in Galapagos Islands

Giant tortoise considered extinct found in Galapagos Islands
© (DC_Colombia/iStock)

The head of Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment and Water confirmed the discovery of a lone living member of a species of giant tortoise thought to have been driven extinct more than 100 years ago.

Gustavo Manrique wrote on Twitter that "hope is intact" for the species Chelonoidis phantasticus after scientists confirmed that a living female tortoise discovered two years ago was in fact a member of the long-lost species.

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The tortoise, more commonly known as the Fernandina Island Galápagos tortoise, now lives in a wildlife conservation center as researchers scour the island chain's third-largest island, Fernandina Island, for a male member of the species to serve as a potential mate. Nicknamed "Fern" by researchers, her discovery was first announced on Twitter by researchers in February of 2019.

The Galapagos National Park said in a statement to CNN that the confirmation of the tortoise's genetic identity was made by researchers at Yale University.

"Yale University revealed the results of genetic studies and the respective DNA comparison that was made with a specimen extracted in 1906," a park official said.