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Tortoise, last of its kind, dies
Monday, June 25th news.ninemsn.com.au
Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of its kind, has died at Galapagos National Park
Staff at the park said they did not know what killed the ancient tortoise, thought to be 100 years old. "This morning the park ranger in charge of looking after the tortoises found Lonesome George, his body was motionless," the head of the park, Edwin Naula, told Re0ters. "His life cycle came to an end."
The last member of the La Pinta Island Tortoise subspecies was found by humans in 1972 and became an environmental celebrity. Scientists tried to pair it up with other species of tortoises twice but the resulting eggs were infertile. The park is considering embalming his body and putting it on display.
The Pinta Island subspecies (abingdoni, now extinct) has been found to be most closely related to the subspecies on the islands of San Cristóbal (chathamensis) and Española (hoodensis) which lie over 300 kilometers (190 mi) away, rather than that on the neighbouring island of Isabela as previously assumed. This relationship is attributable to dispersal by the strong local current from San Cristóbal towards Pinta. This discovery informed further attempts to preserve the abingdoni lineage and the search for an appropriate mate for Lonesome George, who had been penned with females from Isabela. Hope was bolstered by the discovery of an abingdoni hybrid male in the Volcán Wolf population on northern Isabela, raising the possibility that there are more undiscovered living Pinta descendants.