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We’ve all misplaced our keys every now and then. Sometimes we lose our cell phones or we can’t remember where we set down the beer can.

Misplacing a 250-pound tortoise, on the other hand…well now that’s really something.

Researchers have confirmed that a giant tortoise found on Fernandina Island in the Galapagos archipelago is one of a species that was thought to have gone extinct last century.

The female Fernandina Island tortoise, also known as the fantastic giant tortoise, was found on the volcanic island in 2019 by Galapagos National Park rangers and a TV crew on the hunt for supposedly extinct species.

“It was such a shock. There had been rumours over the decades that perhaps there were still some tortoises on Fernandina Island, but there was sort of tenuous evidence at best,” Evelyn Jensen, a lecturer in molecular ecology at Newcastle University, told As It Happens guest host Catherine Cullen.

The last known Fernandina Island tortoise was sighted in 1906. Nobody knew there were more. Heck, even the other Galapagos tortoises didn’t know! You can imagine their surprise when they found out that one of their cousins was still over there chilling on Fernandina Island:

Further searches haven’t turned up any other turtles, which could indicate that Fernandina is the end of the line:

If no other tortoises are found, that will make Fernanda an endling, or the last of her species.

“But if she is only 50 years old, she probably has at least a good ‘nother 100 years to enjoy her life of luxury and captivity,” said Jensen.

Honestly…not sure you can blame her if she never mated. Take a look at what the fellow from 1906 looked like, now preserved at the California Academy of Sciences:

This species isn’t exactly a bunch of lookers. Ah well, good luck Fernandina!


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