Extinct Giant Tortoises Might Not Be Extinct
Scientists have determined that a sub-species of Galapagos Islands tortoise -- long thought to be dead and gone -- might actually still kinda exist.
As it turns out, tortoises from the Island of Floreana -- assumed extinct since the mid-1800s (settlers, machetes) -- might continue to exist genetically, on another part of the island chain, as reported by Discover Magazine.
Years of research indicate that some other species of Galapagos tortoises -- specifically, those on Isabela Island -- have very different genes than their shelled brethren.
They actually have some of the same DNA as previously-thought-to-be-extinct tortoises -- making them tortoise hybrids, if you will.
Researchers discovered this by comparing the Isabela tortoises' DNA to museum specimens, and noticed that some had genes in common with the Floreana group.
Along with the hybrids, a "lost" population of pure Floreana tortoises might also be present somewhere on the Galapagos archipelago, Discover notes.
What this means: Scientists could breed these hybrids together to bring back something close the old species. Or, researchers could start looking for and breeding any straight-up Floreanas, which would also help the species make a comeback.