Ecuador confirmed on Tuesday that a giant tortoise found in 2019 in the Galapagos Islands is a species considered extinct a century ago.
Geneticists from Yale university in the United States compared DNA from the female turtle found two years ago with a sample extracted from a male member of the species- Chelonoidis phantasticus- in 1906.
“ It was believed to have gone extinct more than 100 years ago!” Ecuadorean Environment Minister Gustavo Marique said in a statement on Tuesday.
“ We have reconfirmed its existence. The tortoise of the species Chelonoidis phantasticus was found in #Galapagos”, he said.
Lonesome George, a member of the species Chelonoidis abingdonii, died in 2012 without offspring after it did not mate while in captivity with females of related subspecies.
The male tortoise became an emblem of the Galapagos, an archipelago located 1,000 km (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador and which takes its name from the gigantic turtles.
“The discovery undoubtedly renews our hope for the recovery of this species, in order to avoid a fate similar to that of Lonesome George,” Danny Rueda director of Galapagos National Park, said in a statement following Tuesday’s announcement.