Resurrecting Lonesome George: Relatives of extinct species of tortoise studied in the Galapagos

A Yale team spent the last part of November in the Galapagos gathering dozens of giant tortoises that carry the DNA of extinct species that used to roam two islands in the famous chain.

Adalgisa “Gisella” Caccone of Yale and her team had recently found genetic evidence that tortoises on the remote part of Wolf Island in the Galapagos were related to two extinct species of giant tortoises that once roamed the islands of Pinta and Floreana. Some of these tortoises were relatives of the iconic Lonesome George, the last of his species and mourned worldwide after his death in 2012. Researchers speculate that whalers — who used to store tortoises for food for long voyages — might have thrown the animals overboard near Wolf Island more than 150 years ago.