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30 tortoises that descended from two extinct species found in Volcano Island

Conservationists say they have found 30 giant tortoises partially descended from two extinct species, including that of the famed Lonesome George, around the largest volcano on the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Conservancy said they discovered a young female who has a direct line of descent from the Chelonoidis abingdonii species of Pinta Island in Ecuador.

The last of those tortoises was Lonesome George, a giant tortoise, who was believed to be over 100 years old when he died in June 2012.




Another 11 males and 18 females were from the Chelonoidis niger line of Floreana Island in Ecuador.

The 45-member expedition was working around the Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island.

The conservationists said pirates and whalers had taken tortoises from other islands in the archipelago and left them near the volcano.



Those found during the new expedition were hybrids descended from both the extinct and other species.

The Galapagos Islands, which once held 15 closely related species of tortoise, according to the Galapagos Conservancy.

The nonprofit organisation estimates that 20,000 to 25,000 wild tortoises live on the islands today.

At least four of the species are now considered extinct.


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