About 8000 giant tortoises live in the Galapagos Islands. But it is possible that they belong to a new species, as a team of researchers has now discovered.
Researchers have identified a previously unknown species of giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Until now, scientists have assumed that the animals on the island of San Cristobal belong to the species Chelonoidis chathamensis. This type of remains were identified from the island in the early 19th century. A genetic comparison has now shown that the samples living on the island today are very different from the species Chelonoidis chathamensis, the Ecuadorean Ministry of Environment announced.
Researchers from the University of Newcastle in Great Britain, Yale University in the United States and the Galapagos Conservancy hypothesize that the 8,000 giant tortoises living in San Cristobal today belong to a new, as-yet-described species. On the other hand, the species Chelonoidis chathamensis is probably now extinct.
Both species of turtle may have lived together in San Cristobal — one in the highlands and one in the lowlands, the researchers write in the journal Genetics. Scientists now want to get more genetic material from the remains of a supposedly extinct species in order to clarify the relationship between the two species. (dpa)
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