Scientists hope to restore extinct Galapagos tortoise

Scientists in Ecuador's Galapagos islands are hoping to restore a tortoise species believed extinct since the 1800s.

Chelonoidis elephantopus lived on Floreana Island and was captured by sailors in large numbers for food during long journeys across the Pacific.

The species is thought to have disappeared shortly after Charles Darwin's celebrated visit to the treasured archipelago in 1835.

Scroll down for video 

Scientists in Ecuador's Galapagos islands are hoping to restore a tortoise species believed extinct since the 1800s. The researchers will use a modern species (pictured) with similar genes to the extinct Chelonoidis elephantopus to help restore the tortoise

Scientists in Ecuador's Galapagos islands are hoping to restore a tortoise species believed extinct since the 1800s. The researchers will use a modern species (pictured) with similar genes to the extinct Chelonoidis elephantopus to help restore the tortoise

HOW WILL THEY DO IT?

The tortoise species Chelonoidis elephantopus lived on Floreana Island.

It was driven to extinction in the 1800s after it was captured by sailors in large numbers for food.

In 2012, a group of international scientists collected 1,700 blood samples from tortoises on nearby Isabel Island.

They found that 80 of the samples had genetic traces of the lost Floreana species.

Researchers will now attempt to restore the tortoises by selecting 20 specimens with higher amounts of the Floreana tortoise in its DNA to reproduce.

While the results won't be a 'perfect' restoration, the team will have a tortoise population with many of the same genes as the original. 

But a group of international scientists who collected 1,700 blood samples from tortoises on Isabel Island farther north during a 2012 research expedition made a surprising discovery: 80 had genetic traces of the lost species.

'This is a species that was considered extinct for 160 years,' Dr Washington Tapia, one of the scientists studying the tortoises, told The Associated Press.

'We didn't imagine what we would find.'

Researchers with the Galapagos Conservancy and the Galapagos National Park are now trying to restore the species.

They will select 20 specimens with higher amounts of the Floreana tortoise in its DNA to reproduce.

'We are not going to have a perfect species, genetically 100 per cent like the one that was in Floreana,' said Dr Linda Cayot, a scientific consultant with the Galapagos Conservancy.

'But we will have a tortoise population with many of the same genes as the original.'

Scientists believe sailors who caught Floreana tortoises for food sometimes

read more from dailymail.....

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

NEXT Scientists suggest that aliens will 'look like us'