Though not officially declared extinct, these giant tortoises (Chelonoidis Phantasticus) on the island of Fernandina had been feared by many to have been lost to the ages — and rightfully so. The last sighting, of a lone male tortoise, was in 1906.
In the decades since then, there had been signs of the species’ continued survival on the island. The occasional discovery of tortoise droppings and bite marks provided some reassurance, but any tortoises themselves remained out of sight.
That is, until recently.
This week, Marcelo Mata, environmental minister of Ecuador (which administers the Galapagos Islands), announced that researchers on an Animal Planet funded expedition had located a female giant tortoise on Fernandina.