Lonesome George: The Greatest Galapagos Inhabitant
George was discovered during 1971 by a Hungarian malacologist on the Pinta island. George’s species was particulary dependent to that island due its vegetation, their extinction came as a result of introducing the foreign species of the feral goat who ultimately destroyed the island’s flora and cornered the Pinta tortoise’s population to extermination with only one surviver: George.
Lonesome George was later relocated to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz island to protect it and keep it safe while scientists tried to find other specimens on Pinta island or around the archipelago. But all the efforts were vain: no other Pinta tortoises were found and George was declared extinct as he was in captivity.
Since found, the researches at the Charles Darwin Station made numerous attempts to mate Lonesome George with similar subspecies but none proved to be successful: hundreds of eggs were collected as the result of various efforts to mate George but none of them passed the incubation period, they all ended up being inviable and never hatched.
The end of a long life
On June 24th, 2012, Lonesome George was found dead by his caretaker. A later necropsy revealed that the last Pinta tortoise died of old age. His body was later sent to the American Museum of Natural History in New York to be preserved by their taxidermists. It was also showcased in a short display at the museum and later sent back to his home in Ecuador. It has been speculated since then that some specimens of the Pinta tortoise may still be alive somewhere in the island due to the discovery of 17 subspecies that are partial descendants of Lonesome George’s species.