Maybe the late, lamented Galápagos tortoise wasn't the end of his line, after all. A DNA shocker is spurring a hunt for living cousins.
'Now, in an area known as Volcano Wolf—on the secluded northern tip of Isabela, another Galápagos island—the researchers have identified 17 hybrid descendants of C.n. abingdoni within a population of 1,667 tortoises.
Genetic testing identified three males, nine females, and five juveniles (under the age of 20) with DNA from C.n. abingdoni. The presence of juveniles suggests that purebred specimens may exist on the island too, the researchers said.
"Even the parents of some of the older individuals may still be alive today, given that tortoises live for so long and that we detected high levels of ancestry in a few of these hybrids," Yale evolutionary biologist Danielle Edwards said.'