Thought to be extinct since the beginning of the 20th century. It is the giant tortoise of San Cristobal Island (Galapagos Islands), Chelonoidis chathamensis. It corresponds genetically to a different species than previously thought. Thanks to this there is a new species of tortoise in Galapagos.
New and old DNA
The research is from Newcastle University, Yale University, Galapagos Conservancy and other institutions.
how was the finding confirmed? This was the result of a comparison of genetic analyses. The tortoises that currently inhabit the island and the DNA of the tortoises described above were studied. Genetic studies of Galapagos giant tortoises began in 1995. By the end of 1999 all surviving species had been described. This was followed by the study of the extinct species. Details are reported by the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador.
Finally, scientists came to a conclusion as a result of this research. The almost eight thousand turtles that exist today in San Cristóbal may not be Chelonoidis chathamensis. So? They happen to belong to a completely new, as yet undescribed lineage.
There is news also about the described lineage (C. chathamensis). The information is clarified based on remains collected by the California Academy of Sciences in 1906, in caves in the upper part of the island. They think it could be extinct. They also explain that both species of turtles lived together on the island.
The research team is recovering more DNA from what they consider to be the extinct species. They hope to clarify the status of the tortoises. They also want to determine how these two species (the current and the extinct) are related. For them, the name Chelonoidis chathamensis should be assigned to the extinct species. In the meantime, the living taxon should be given a new name. If there is a new species of tortoise in Galapagos, it should have its own.