Not quite so lonesome

New Scientist: New hope for Galapagos' 'Lonesome George'

The rarest living creature - a giant tortoise thought to be the last of his kind - may not be alone after all, say geneticists. The revelation gives new hope to "Lonesome George" as conservationists consider a proposal to get him to breed in captivity…

[Jeff] Powell [of Yale University] and colleagues analysed the DNA of 27 tortoises from Wolf Volcano on Isabela. One of these appears to be a cross between a Pinta male and an Isabela female, they discovered. Unfortunately, it is also male. But its mere existence raises the intriguing possibility there might be a female carrying Pinta genes that would make a suitable match for Lonesome George.

I fear this is a false hope, but it is fascinating how modern genetic techniques can reveal complex species relationships like this.

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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