Scientists discover new giant tortoise species in Galapagos Islands
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Scientists discover new giant tortoise species in Galapagos Islands

Scientists say a new species of giant tortoise has been discovered in the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador thanks to genetic testing.

The national park said in a statement Tuesday that the new tortoise was the 15th known species discovered on the archipelago. Four of those are extinct.

A study revealed that one of the largest islands in the Galapagos archipelago is home to two species of giant tortoise – and not just one, as previously believed.

Yale University biologist Gisella Caccione led the investigation that identified the new species on Santa Catalina island. She said the discovery will help protect and restore the tortoise, whose numbers are estimated at 250. That compares to more than 2,000 of the other species living on the island, Chelonidis porteri.

The new species was christened Chelonoidis donfaustoi after park ranger Fausto Llerena. The Chelonoidis species is believed to have arrived around 1.3 million years after the Chelonoidis porteri tortoise.

According to researchers, the groups rarely interbreed and look similar, but not identical.

There are around 250 of the Chelonoidis donfaustoi species.

The Galapagos Islands, located some 1000 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador, inspired naturalist Charles Darwin.

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