Sunday, July 1, 2012

We Interrupt Our Previously Scheduled Programming: RIP, Lonesome George

Well, we managed to get a whole day without me changing the programming!  I decided to let you all know about a saddening death that occurred a week ago today in the Ecuadorian-owned Galápagos Islands.
A picture of Lonesome George that my grandparents took several years ago on a visit to the Galápagos.  Apparently he was a little camera shy.  Photo Credit: Ted and Gail Neher
Lonesome George was the last survivng member of his supspecies. Ten of the fifteen known subspecies of the Galápagos Giant Tortoise survive in the wild. However, and eleventh subspecies survives in captivity, Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni. Consisting of a sole member, Lonesome George, it is easy to see where George got his name!

Researchers at the Charles Darwin Research Station, a biological research station in the Galápagos, have offered a $10,000 bounty on anyone who can find a suitable mate for Lonesome George. So far, all attempts at getting Lonesome George to breed with a member of another sub-species have been unsuccessful.
A herd of turtles (yes, Michael Scott, I'm looking at you).  These Galápagos turtles would belong to a different sub-species than Lonesome George.  Photo Credit: Ted and Gail Neher
Here is a brief snippet from a news cast regarding his death:

"Scientists had expected him to live another few decades at least.

Various mates had been provided for Lonesome George after he was found in 1972 in what proved unsuccessful attempts to keep his subspecies alive.

Attempts were initially made to mate Lonesome George with two female tortoises from Wolf Volcano. But the eggs they produced were infertile.

Two females from Spanish island's tortoise population, the species most closely related to Pinta tortoises, were placed with him last year."
The majestic hindquarters of Lonesome George.  Photo Credit: Ted and Gail Neher
Unfortunately, with his death, the world's most endangered animal has passed on the mantle to some other animal, unknown to me at this time, and perhaps even unknown to science.  Regardless, it is a sad day for people the world over with the loss of this titan; literally, as he was over 100 years in age, and was about 5 feet long and weighed 200 pounds!  He seemed to pass away from old age, though, so at least he went in a nice way.

And don't worry, we can get back to teeth and dental anatomy some time next week.  See you tomorrow.

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