Chelonoidis abingdonii   (Günther)


 
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Pinta Island Giant Tortoise
(Chelonoidis abingdonii)

 
syn. Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii (Günther), Testudo abingdonii (Günther), Testudo ephippium (Günther)

 
distribution:

Ecuador: Isla Pinta / Galápagos Islands

 
local name: -

 
size: ca. 98 cm (carapace length)

extinction date: -

 
Once, countless individuals of this species lived on the ca. 59 km² large Isla Pinta in the Galapágos archipelago.

Already in the year 1906 their number was shrunk to only four individuals, when the American 'Biologist' Rollo Beck killed three of them to examine their stomach contents.

Today only one individual of this species is still alive, an about 100 year old male that has been named 'Lonesome George'. This animal is now kept in the Charles Darwin Station on the island of Santa Cruz, where (futile) efforts are undertaken to preserve the Pinta Island Giant Tortoise as a species.

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'Lonesome George' is the last living member of a species that has to be considered 'technically extinct', because it is impossible, to preserve this species by crossing it with other tortoise forms. On the one hand all of the so far undertaken efforts to associate females of other forms to the lonesome male seem to be fruitless, on the other hand all potential descendants would either way represent nothing but hybrids.

 
 
above:

Pinta Island Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii)


Photo from: 'John Van Denburgh: The gigantic land tortoises of the Galapagos Archipelago. San Francisco, Britton & Rey, 1914'

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org

 
References:

- Dennis M. Hansen; C. Josh Donlan; Christine J. Griffiths; Karl J. Campbell: Ecological history and latent conservation potential: large and giant tortoises as a model for taxon substitutions. Ecography Vol. 33(2) 272–284. 2010
- Anders G. J. Rhodin; Peter Paul van Dijk; John B. Iverson; H. Bradley Shaffer: Turtles of the World, 2010 Update: Annotated Checklist of Taxonomy, Synonomy, Distribution, and Conservation Status. Chelonian Research Monographs 5. 2010