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'Extinct' Galapagos Tortoise Still Alive

DNA shows that species thought wiped out in 1840s is on different island
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2012 6:02 AM CST

(Newser) – Scientists have located survivors of a giant Galapagos tortoise species thought to have gone extinct back in the 1840s. Researchers testing the DNA of 1,600 tortoises on Isabela Island in the Galapagos discovered that at least 84 were offspring of a species that originally lived on nearby Floreana Island, reports USA Today. Poachers were thought to have wiped them out.

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"To have a species that was thought to be extinct in the middle of the 1800s come back is amazing," said a researcher. Whalers decimated the Floreana population of tortoises in the years after Darwin made his famous voyage in 1835. Researchers speculate that some escaped from the ships and made their way to Isabela, where their descendants now survive. Researchers eventually hope to resettle them back on their native island, notes the Los Angeles Times. (Read more Galapagos Islands stories.)

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