What happened to the shell?
According to a press release issued Tuesday by the nonprofit Galapagos Conservancy, a species of giant tortoise thought to be extinct more than a century ago is still alive and well in the Galapagos Islands
The turtle, dubbed “Fern,” was discovered in 2019 on Fernandina Island during a joint expedition by the Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Conservancy. Yale University scientists have now confirmed that the reptile, dubbed “Fern,” is a Fernandina giant tortoise, or Chelonoidis phantasticus — a species last reported 112 years ago and “long considered lost forever,” according to a press release.
According to USA Today, the Fernandina giant tortoise was thought to be extinct as a result of volcanic eruptions.
Scientists hope that Fern will not suffer the same fate as “Lonesome George,” the last Pinta Island tortoise who died without offspring in 2012. To save Fern’s species, the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Conservancy have launched an urgent expedition to Fernandina Island to find her a mate.
According to National Geographic, scientists are optimistic that they will find Fern a special friend, despite the fact that the island's abundant lava flow makes it difficult to locate animals
The magazine did note, however, that the conservationists who discovered Fern discovered other tortoise tracks in soil not far from where she was discovered.
Scientists are also optimistic that Fern, who is estimated to be around 100 years old, will be able to reproduce. Giant tortoises
can live to be 200 years old, according to National Geographic, so Fern may still be able to become a mother despite her advanced age.