January 21, 2011
Scientists Hoping For Galapagos Tortoise Love
The Galapagos National Park said in a statement to the Associated Press (AP) on Thursday that they are providing two new female partners for "Lonely George", who is believed to be the last living member of the Geochelone abigdoni species.
George is estimated to be between 90 and 100 years old "” and could have at least 50 more years ahead of him. For the past 20 years, he has lived with two previous female partners, of the similar but different Geochelone becki species.
The females laid eggs in each of the last 3 years but none resulted in viable offspring. The two potential mates arrived on Santa Cruz island, where George lives, on Thursday from the archipelago's Spanish Island.
Genetic studies conducted by Yale University have shown that the newly arrived tortoises "are genetically closer ... more compatible, and could offer greater possibilities of producing offspring," the park's statement said to AP.
The Galapagos island chain, about 620 miles (1,000 kms) off Ecuador's coast, is home to unique animal species that inspired Charles Darwin's ideas on evolution.
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