Lonesome George has died

The last Galapagos tortoise, Lonesome George, has died at roughly a hundred years old. Scientists aren’t sure why he died and plan an autopsy, but Galapagos tortoises were thought to have a lifespan of about two hundred years.

George was a member of the same species of tortoise that prompted Charles Darwin, on visiting the Galapagos Islands, to first formulate the theory of evolution.

The footage of George in this clip starts at 2:03, but you may want to watch the start anyway, which tells of fishermen holding George and other iconic animals hostage to fend off conservationists who have been making the fishermen’s lives difficult.

Lonesome George has died

6 thoughts on “Lonesome George has died

  1. 2

    I was there with my boyfriend last year, and we couldn’t see lonesome George due to terrorist threats… Now there’s no more lonesome George to threaten, I’m forced to wonder what the heck the fishermen can use as a bargaining chip XD

  2. 3

    Also: There are tortoises on the Galapagos, but George was one of the ones for which the islands were named. The saddle shaped shell is reduced to smaller islands where the tortoises have to eat tall cacti rather than ground vegetation. There are still saddlebacked subspecies, but C. n. abingdoni was the most famous of the saddlebacked variety. So we lost the most Galapagos-y of the Galapagos turtles, the most connected with the islands. So I wouldn’t say that calling George the last Galapagos tortoise is MUCH of an exaggeration, even though he is only the last of one subspecies.

  3. 4

    The difference between species and subspecies is more fluid, imprecise, and occasionally arbitrary than many realize. Though nentuaby, thankfully, is correct that Galapagos tortoises survive, the death of Lonesome George marks the extinction of an important clade regardless of how that clade was pigeonholed by taxonomists.

  4. 6

    Sorry folks, you’re right, he was the last of a subspecies, not the whole Galapagos tortoise species. But I’m about to board a plane and can’t correct it just now. Mea culpa.

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