A Giant Tortoise Thought To Be Extinct Over A Hundred Years Ago, It Reappears In Galápagos Island

Is no surprise when we hear that a certain animal is endangered from extinction. In fact, sadly enough, that has become a piece of very common news. What might really come as a surprise is hearing that some animals are known to already be extinct. have reappeared.

A giant tortoise, the Fernandina, was one of those reptiles believed to be long gone – about 110 years ago. But after this very long time, a joint expedition has spotted an individual strolling around a Galápagos island.

The adult female, scientifically named as Chelonoidis phantasticus, was discovered on February 17, 2019. That happened during an Animal Planet funded expedition on the island of Fernandina by the Galápagos National Park and Galápagos Conservancy, according to Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment.

The very last time there were seen this specie was back in 1906.  Although there was a possible sighting in 2009, researchers hesitated to give any conclusion. Now that the team has also found evidence, namely poop and bite marks on cacti, it suggests that there are other live members of the species on the island as well.

The Fernandina giant tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus) at Galapagos national park. Photograph: Rodrigo Buendía/AFP/Getty Images

“The conservation of Galápagos giant tortoises has been my world for 29 years, and I have been involved in many exciting events, including the discovery of a new species of tortoise. But this time, the emotion I feel is indescribable,” Wacho Tapia, Director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative at the Galápagos Conservancy, said in a statement.

“To find a living tortoise on Fernandina Island is perhaps the most important find of the century. The only live specimen of the species from Fernandina (Chelonoidis phantasticus) was found 112 years ago,” he added.

“Now we just need to confirm the genetic origin of this female. She is old but she is alive!”

The recently rediscovered individual. ©Galapagos National Park Directorate

The Galápagos Islands are famous for their giant tortoises. The name of the island itself “Galápagos” derives from an old Spanish word for tortoises. However, it’s less well known that there are actually at least 15 species of giant tortoise that inhabit the volcanic archipelago.

As a general rule, the species that live in the humid highlands have domed shells and short necks, as they have plenty of low-lying vegetation to eat, but tortoises that live in dry flatlands have “saddleback” shells and a long neck,  which enables them to reach up and eat higher growing plants.

The Galápagos Islands are also well known for providing Charles Darwin with the inspiration and knowledge to write his works on evolution by means of natural selection.

Found 1,000 kilometers (~620 miles) west of mainland Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, the islands are home to some of the world’s most varied and unique wildlife, including the blue-footed booby, the lava lizard, and colossal sunfish, to name a few.

The recently rediscovered individual. ©Galapagos National Park Directorate

Artist Visually Compares the Sizes of Extinct Species With Their Modern Relatives

Technology has evolved and shaped our workplaces in many ways. Photoshop, for instance, helps us take a glimpse at how we want things to appear. Although flawless photography is perhaps never possible without expensive shooting gear, digital photo can give us the solution to turn imperfect photographs into professional ones so easily. It helps us to explore creative thinking and thoughts. Even though they still remain digital, they’re pretty close to reality.

To illustrate, Roman Uchytel uses technology for this matter. He uses Photoshop to show us a glimpse of things that have passed and thus will never come back. More specifically, he recreates prehistoric extinct species of animals as best as he can using the information that he has now. And it can be said that he’s been doing indeed a good job at it. Furthermore, he even managed to publish a book which you can find here.

Luckily, Earthwonders managed to get in touch with Roman Uchytel and had an interview about one of his many series which will be presented below. Such series involve the comparison of the sizes of extinct species with their modern relatives and places them side by side. It’s truly interesting how some of the species were way bigger than we would’ve thought looking at their modern relatives. So, scroll down and check out the images!

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“We came up with this idea together with Alexandra Antonova (Uchytel), my wife and business partner, for our children to know what the ancestors (or relatives) of the animals they see in the zoo looked like. Besides, I’ve been wondering myself how these animals would fit together. Everyone compares extinct animals to humans, but no one compared them to contemporaries (descendants).” said Uchytel for Earthwonders.


When being asked if it’s challenging to come up with ideas and with the final results, he said “Of course, it’s a challenge because you do it for yourself and you never know if it will resonate with other people”.


“It was really unexpected for my pictures to become quite viral, because in today’s world, it’s very difficult to surprise anyone. But I’m glad that a lot of people are interested in extinct animals, because one of the missions of the Prehistoric Fauna project is to starting point for an international dialogue that could help preserve the remains of the megafauna, because many animals can die out again because of humans.”


“People’s reaction about these images was like a snowball reaction. Because a lot of people didn’t know that modern animals had such unusual ancestors.”
































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