Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Extinct May Not Be Forever For Some Species Of Galapagos Tortoises

Date:
October 2, 2008
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Yale scientists report that genetic traces of extinct species of Galapagos tortoises exist in descendants now living in the wild, a finding that could spur breeding programs to restore the species.

Hybrid tortoise on Volcano Wolf.
Credit: Claudio Ciofi

Yale scientists report that genetic traces of extinct species of Galapagos tortoises exist in descendants now living in the wild, a finding that could spur breeding programs to restore the species.

When Darwin first visited the island of Floreana in 1835 and wrote about the giant tortoises, heavy human exploitation was already decimating the population. Within a few decades, 4 of the 15 known species had disappeared. On some islands, tortoises were sacrificed for oil that was used to light the streetlights of Quito, Equador. Others were taken as food or ballast for pirate and whaling ships.

Museum specimens and current molecular technology, coupled with 15 years of field work studying the tortoise population present now on the Galapagos archipelago by Gisella Caccone and Jeffrey Powell, faculty in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, has painted a new picture of the origins and future of some of the tortoises.

"Connecting the past and present through genetic markers identified in the museum specimens — including the extinct species — has been key," said Caccone.

The database they established includes information from more than 2000 animals — so they know the genetic profile of each population. Their data show that all the known species and taxons of tortoises are genetically unique, which allows them to identify animals whose genetic information came from another species.

Matching museum specimens to current populations showed both distinct lineages and intermingled species. Of particular note, the team found tortoises on Volcano Wolf of the island Isabella — the furthest separated island of the archipelago — that had both the mitochondrial DNA and nuclear markers of the Floreana lineage.

"The population on Volcano Wolf is the most heterogeneous population we have seen," said Powell. He postulates that this island was the last stop for whaling and pirate ships heading out across the ocean to jettison their tortoise "ballast." Before they could retrieve the tortoises on a return trip, they the animals likely wandered and interbred.

Genes of the famous "Lonesome George" were also found in the Volcano Wolf population.

Hybrids of the extinct Floreana tortoise line theoretically now could be bred, the researchers say, and over a long span, revive this species. With this in mind, an expedition on Volcano Wolf is planned in December 2008 to look for tortoises bearing the Floreana lineage. Work is also under way to completely sequence the tortoise genome to gain a better understanding of these animals.

Nikos Poulakakis, Scott Glaberman and Michael Russello from Yale were co-authors as were Luciano B. Beheregaray from Macquarie University, Australia, and Claudio Ciofi from the University of Florence, Italy. The Bay Foundation, the National Geographic Society and the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies funded this research.

Citation: Proc. National Academy of Sciences: (online September 23, 2008).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Extinct May Not Be Forever For Some Species Of Galapagos Tortoises." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080923091341.htm>.
Yale University. (2008, October 2). Extinct May Not Be Forever For Some Species Of Galapagos Tortoises. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080923091341.htm
Yale University. "Extinct May Not Be Forever For Some Species Of Galapagos Tortoises." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080923091341.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) — An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) — An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) — A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) — Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins