Lonesome George Dies At Age 100; Species Goes Extinct

Lonesome George has passed away!

The legendary tortoise, the rarest of its species and the last giant tortoise from the Galapagos island of Pinta, has died at the age of about 100 years. The Galapagos National Park, Ecuador, staff have said that George was the last of his species and now the species has gone extinct.

Lonesome George (Photo Courtesy: The Guardian)

The exact cause of George’s death is unknown and a post-mortem for the giant elder.

The story of George’s long life has been a sad one. Lonesome George has no offspring and there are no other individuals of his species left.

The story of his life

George had been a mascot of the Galapagos National Park breeding program. He lived with a female for 15 years on a nearby Wolf volcano and mated. However, the eggs were infertile. Slow reproduction rates for the species meant that George remained without an offspring.

He was picked up and kept with females from the nearby Espanola island in the archipelago. These females were genetically closer to him than those from Wolf volcano. But George wasn’t interested in a relationship. He did not mate with these females. George had just tagged himself ‘Lonesome’.

And the Darwin angle

The legend of Lonesome George has as much of a foothold in the history of the island as it has got in the annals of science. The ancestors of Lonesome George, the giant Galapagos tortoises, of which the giants from Pinta are integral members, had been instrumental in suggesting toDarwin, what was then, the hypothesis of evolution.

It was this and his uniqueness that made Lonesome George the star of Pinta Island, attracting close to 200,000 visitors every year.

The star no longer shines.

Published by

Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.