One of the hybrid Galapagos tortoises found on Isabela
Island, a hope for bringing back a species thought extinct.
Recently a paper came out in Current Biology saying that one of the other Galapagos tortoise species, Geochelonoidis elephantopus of Floreana Island, thought extinct, also has relatives, but on Isabela Island, two hundred miles away from their one-time home. From genetic analysis, it looks as if hybridization has been happening for the two hundred or so years since ships started to deposit tortoises from one island onto another. What is most hopeful is that 30 of the 84 hybrids found so far are not more than fifteen years old: young enough that purebred parents are “likely” to be found. Ryan Garrick and his coauthors say that if they are found, they “could constitute core founders of a captive breeding program directed toward resurrecting this species.”