The last Galapagos tortoise named George died in 2012 on Pinta Island. Only three years later scientists are preparing to bring back to life the extinct Galapagos tortoise.
Because their center of gravity was low and they moved close to the ground they were able to keep a healthy soil and environment. Thus these extinct tortoises were extremely important to the environment.
When Charles Darwin arrived on the Galapagos islands in 1835, he was inspired by the tortoises he found there to write his famous theory of evolution and natural selection.
Some scientists decided to bring back to life the Galapagos tortoises. They are trying to do that with the help of genetics and living tortoises. In the Galapagos islands once lived eight species of tortoises of which three are now extinct. Although the Santa Fe, Pinta and Floreana tortoises no longer exist, their genetic information can be still found in the last species of Galapagos tortoises.
For the first time a genetic material will be manipulated with such force. Caccone Adalgisa, one of the scientists, said that the number of the tortoise population is overwhelming. She continued by saying that she is really optimistic about the elevated conservation of the tortoises.
Researchers first collected blood from the Isabela Island tortoises. The results were really good, 89 out of 1,600 tortoises had the DNA of the extinct tortoises form the island Floreana. But only 17 tortoises had high levels of Pinta tortoises’ DNA.
Before the breeding program will start in 2016 scientists will identify and use only the tortoises with the high Pinta DNA. The tortoises found on Santa Cruz Island match the Pinta DNA the most. Caccone, the Yale University researcher said that it could be all done in only one month but the budget does not permit that.
If successful, the new tortoises will be released in the wilderness in 10 years. They are expected to restore ecosystems and to revive the environment. Scientists predict that tortoises acquired in a few generations will have 95% of ancestral DNA.
Scientists are optimistic about bringing back to life the extinct Galapagos tortoise. If you are one of the people who knew about the fate of lonesome George or even if this is the first time you are hearing about him be ready to see his offspring in the near future.
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