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Scientists To Revive Galápagos Tortoise

Update Date: Dec 16, 2015 01:34 PM EST
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Lonesome George, the last Galápagos tortoise on Pinta Island, died in 2012.

His memory still remains, and scientists now are trying to revive the extinct species, by carefully breeding living tortoises with genetic relationships, according to The Verge.

While the DNA is important, it is the first time that the genetic information will be used with so much commitment and force.

Galápagos tortoises are important to the environment. With a low center of gravity, moving close to the ground, they move seeds and nutrients, which keeps the soil healthy and sustains the environment, according to History in the Headlines.

They also inspired the English naturalist Charles Darwin to develop the theory of evolution and natural selection after he landed in the Galápagos in 1835.

Earlier, there were eight species of Galápagos tortoise. Three are extinct---from the Pinta, Floreana, and Santa Fe islands. However, bits of their genetic makeup still linger in the remaining species of the Galápagos tortoises.

At first, scientists collected blood samples from tortoises in Isabela Island and found that eighty-nine of the 1,600 they sampled had high levels of Floreana DNA, while 17 had high levels of Pinta DNA.

In a few generations, it will be possible to acquire tortoises with 95 percent of lost ancestral genes.

"The size of this population is mind-boggling," said Adalgisa Caccone, the expedition's geneticist. "I am optimistic that some of these animals will have high conservation value."

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