A new Galapagos tortoise species discovered in Ecuador`s Galapagos Islands. Videos.
The enchanted Galapagos Islands located in Ecuador South America is the refugee of the world`s giant tortoises and for joy of the world a new species has been discovered.
In 1993, Washington Tapia, along with other guards, conducting routine monitoring by the eastern forest of Santa Cruz Island. Suddenly he looked at a white object between dry bushes, was a skull ... Surprised, he picked up this unusual finding no suspect in his hands was a piece that, after 22 years, would be the reference of a new species of giant Galapagos tortoise .
On Wednesday the existence of the Chelonoidis donfaustoi, a kind of tortoise that adds to the 14 described so far and four of which are extinct. Was confirmed Nine years after Tapia found that skull, researchers and Tom Fritz Cruz Marquez, the Charles Darwin Foundation , is worried by a morphological difference in the shell of the giant tortoises that lived in eastern Santa Cruz, near the Cerro Fatal. Both they repaired in the rear and front ends of the shell of these turtles ended more vertically, compared to the sharp bend in the individuals present on the western side, in the Chelonoidis porteri. Which up to then-the only species that had colonized the island believed. For over a decade, Tapia and 10 other national and foreign researchers made genetic studies, led by Dr. Adalgisca Caccone. They analyzed the differences between the DNA being studied turtles and other species known. The research was sponsored by Yale University (USA) and was supported by the Ministry of Environment (MAE) through Galapagos National Park (PNG). The field work was not easy. For six months a year, the arid land of Cerro fatal absorbs not even a drop of water, but these scientists walked 5-10 km under the intense sun of every day.
Among the thorny bushes possible individuals seeking a new species. Tapia, biologist now has that carried five gallons of water, tents, food and clothes for the 20 day expedition. As luck harboring them, they were taking specimens and blood samples sent to laboratories to analyze the mitochondrial DNA. In 2005, the thrill seized scientists: they obtained the preliminary results suggesting the presence of two different species on Santa Cruz Island. To deepen, we also analyzed the nuclear DNA.After eight years, a new species and the past, with complete data Wednesday, the description of the Chelonoidis donfaustoi became public was confirmed. The name honors Fausto Llerena , who dedicated 43 years of his life to the conservation of turtles and was the caretaker of the legendary Lonesome George . The genetic results suggest that the new species is more akin to the San Cristòbal giant tortoise and 400.000 years ago their ancestors migrated to Santa Cruz, said Tapia. This discovery poses challenges for future monitoring to calculate the actual size population Chelonoidis donfaustoi which for now is estimated at between 250 and 300 individuals, that identifies potential risks to their survival.
Being a relatively small population -said Jorge Carrion, director of environmental management PNG- should be treated differently and priority. Danny Rueda, director of the PNG ecosystems, says that between 20 and 25 rangers specialists in handling turtles are the guardians of this new species. So that skull, in 1993, was considered another of the Museum of Vertebrates PNG is now the benchmark part of a new charm from the Galapagos.