Chelonoidis sp.


 
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Santa Fe Giant Tortoise
(Chelonoidis sp.)

 
syn. -

 
distribution:

Ecuador: Isla Santa Fé / Galápagos Islands

 
local name: -

 
size: (?)

extinction date: after 1890 (?)

 
The Isla Santa Fé resp. Barrington Island is a small island of only about 24 km², but it may formerly indeed have harboured its own endemic tortoise species.

The (very probable) former existence of tortoises on Barrington Island is indicated by the presence of an endemic tree-like prickly pear cactus variety, Opuntia echios var. barringtonensis (E. Y. Dawson). These tree-like cacti only appear only on islands that also harbour tortoises, while islands definitely without tortoises have without exception procumbent prickly pear varieties.

Furthermore, there are altogether four contemporaneous reports (by inhabitans and whalers) that speak of the removing of tortoises -  last in the year 1890.

Last but not least, several old bones were found on the island, but no shell fragments, which are said to be the most durable part of the tortoises skeletons.

Nevertheless, the Santa Fe Giant Tortoise has to be considered a hypothetical species.

 
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