Scientists Working To Bring Galapagos Tortoise Species Back From Extinction

By Jessica Rawden 2012-11-24 16:22:45
When Galapagos turtle Lonesome George perished, he took with him the secrets of an entire species. The Pinta Island Tortoise was the last of its kind, however, scientists are hoping to pull a near miracle and bring the species back to life, using a complicated crossbreeding effort in the Galapagos National Park.

Recently, scientists related to Yale University took samples from 1,600 tortoises in the area and found DNA of Lonesome George’s ilk in 17 tortoises, although many of them were from different species. Biologist Edwin Naula, who runs the Galapagos National Park told The Huffington Post, the park will crossbreed the turtles until a pure Pinta Island Tortoise can be achieved. If the process can be achieved, it won’t be an easy endeavor—it will take 100 or 150 years.

However crazy and, more importantly, painstaking it may seem to those of us not trained in biology and genetics, Naula says the crossbreeding has a high chance of succeeding. In fact, the 17 tortoises have already been transferred to a breeding center in Santa Cruz. There, they will be bred to recreate the glorious species of Lonesome George. Before humans showed up, thousands and thousands of turtles occupied the island. That number dropped to only 3,000 at one point, but has now jumped up to around 20,000. Crossbreeding the turtles to bring an extinct species to life is yet another great step.

When they do eventually breed a new Pinta Island Tortoise, I hope they call the beast Lonesome Edwin.
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