Giant tortoise Lonesome George dies, last of his kind

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VANISHED.  The last of his kind of species, Lonesome George, the Galapagos land tortoise believed to be more than 100 years old, dies with no known offspring. AFP

QUITO—Lonesome George has died, leaving the world one subspecies poorer.

The only remaining Pinta Island giant tortoise and celebrated symbol of conservation efforts in the Galapagos Islands passed away Sunday with no known offspring, the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador said in a statement.

Lonesome George’s longtime caretaker, Fausto Llerena, found the giant tortoise’s remains stretched out in the “direction of his watering hole” on Santa Cruz Island, it said.

Estimated to be more than 100 years old, the creature’s cause of death remains unclear and a necropsy is planned. Lonesome George is being kept in a cold chamber to prevent decomposition prior to the procedure.

Lonesome George was discovered on Pinta Island in 1972 at a time when giant tortoises of his type, Geochelone nigra abingdoni, were already believed to be extinct.

Since then, the animal had been part of the park service’s tortoise program, but repeated efforts to breed Lonesome George failed.

“The plight of Lonesome George provided a catalyst for an extraordinary effort by the government of Ecuador to restore not only tortoise populations throughout the archipelago but also improve the status of other endangered and threatened species,” the park said.

In honor of Lonesome George, it said it was convening an international workshop in July on management strategies for restoring tortoise populations over the next decade.

“Lonesome George’s legacy will be an increased effort in both research and management to restore his island of Pinta and all of the other giant tortoise populations of Galapagos,” it said.

The Galapagos Islands, situated about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) off Ecuador’s coast, are considered a haven for tortoises.

There are about 20,000 giant tortoises left in the Galapagos, according to the park’s website. They are believed to be able to live up to the age of 200.

The Galapagos gained fame when Charles Darwin visited in 1835 to conduct landmark research that led to his revolutionary theories on evolution.

The archipelago has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978 for the rich plant and animal life found both on its land and in the surrounding sea.

In 2007, the organization declared the island chain’s environment endangered due to the increase of tourism and the introduction of invasive species.

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  • GKLer

    Darwin’s Theory of Evolution = Nothing + Accident + Lots of Time = Everything = STUPIDITY

    • Rodolfo Garcia

      wag ka nga nagmamarunong. Your pronouncement is terribly ignorant and contrived and reduced/simplified to breathtakingly absurd levels.

      • GKLer

        When you have something remotely intelligent to add, please feel free to use the net. Otherwise, go back to the pond oooze you climbed out, evolve some more chimp, err chump.

        Evolution 101 for you: Iron based life forms evolved into my Honda after zillions of years all on their own.

      • Rodolfo Garcia

        are u one of them freaks who believe in talking snakes? snakes and trolls live in one place. yes?

      • GKLer

        Yawn… like I said, go back to your pond ooze, and try to come out in a 100 million years…maybe then something more intelligent will come out. If you know what real intelligence is even like.

        Darwin was STUPID, he never even saw what a real woman looked like. Checkout Lin Ketong, tell me she even resembles “Lucy”, Darwin failed in Science 101: Observation

        Everyone who got suckered by him, Hitchens and Dawkins are even more stupid…as stupid as pond ooze.

        The Pseudosciences: Astrology, Alchemy, Evolution.

      • joerizal

        You’re stupid

      • GKLer

        joerizal came from pond ooze, excuse his IQ.

      • joerizal

        Excuse your IQ ========== 0000000000000

      • GKLer

        The coelecanth is a 400 million year old fish fossil. It was found alive in 1931, it couldn’t talk, walk, build anything, it was still a fish.

        Cyanobacteria fossils as old as 3 billion years have been found, it is found today alive as cyanobacteria, how much more time does it need to evolve into another ape?

        People like you get all your information from TV, national geographic, try reading a book, it might help you in the real world. :]

    • Rodolfo Garcia

      Opps. . . sorry. I wasn’t supposed to feed trolls like you.

      • GKLer

        yawn…. boring…


    MERON….merong offspring si Lonesome George… sa senado ng PH na nagnngangalang MATUTS. Pinsan ni Lonesome George si Lolong na kamag-anak ni Mike A na saksakan ng pagkasiba sa pera…..tulad ng kamag-anak niyang si Lolong na masiba sa nokma.

  • TheGUM

    RIP Lonesome George.

    Once I found one of your really tiny cousins and took it home as a pet, fed it a lot of kangkong and it seemed to really like it. And I’ll never forget another cousin of yours, this time a much bigger one (like a coffee table), that I stroked while snorkeling. It was magical!

    Sorry to hear you go, Lonesome George. You guys seem to really understand, I know you folks can communicate with us stupid humans.

  • Juan Carlos Tecson Gonzalez

    I was really surprised to see an article about Lonesome George, having reserved my notion of news in the Philippines as just a coalescence of politics, showbiz, calamities, crime and Manny Pacquiao. I am glad that a growing number of Filipinos are becoming more aware and interested in understanding the natural world, and why we need to conserve species and ecosystems. Although we lost the Pinta Island Giant Tortoise, we do have some good news in the Philippines, with the re-discovery of the Dinagat Island Clout Rat – which was previously thought to have gone extinct. Much like the Galagapos Island, the Philippines also represents an invaluable natural laboratory for evolution, and even in the 21st century, more new species are still being discovered.

  • DGuardian

    It is sad that a magnificent endangered turtle, who had existed for more than 100 years with humans, had gone. The importance and irreplaceability of endangered species, not only of fauna, but also of flora in this world, are again highlighted by the demise of Lonesome George. Pope John Paul II, when he was alive, declared that animals have souls. Lonesome George is now in Heaven along with the rest of billions of animals, who were either loved or abused by humans,

  • ricky gutoman

    clone him!

  • Cirenoj

    Such a magnificent creature.

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