Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Baby Tortoises Found On Galapagos Island For First Time In Over 100 Years

January 21, 2015

After more than a century without a single baby tortoise sighting on the Galapagos island of Pinzón, a small group of the tiny, shelled youngsters have been spotted again.

The recent births are helping to pull the critically endangered animals back from the brink of extinction after they were nearly laid to waste as a result of human activity.

"I'm amazed that the tortoises gave us the opportunity to make up for our mistakes after so long," researcher James Gibbs who was among the first to see the hatchlings in December, told The Dodo.

When sailors first landed on Pinzón Island in the mid-18th century, they inadvertently triggered an environmental catastrophe that has taken generations to correct. Rats aboard those early vessels quickly gained a foothold in the fragile ecosystem, feasting on the eggs and hatchlings of the island's tortoises who, up until then, had few natural predators.
The rats were so devastating, in fact, that over the following decades not a single tortoise offspring survived the onslaught — setting the species on the path to extinction.

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