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New giant tortoise species discovered in the Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Giant Tortoises

The Galapagos Giant tortoise is perhaps the most iconic animal in Ecuador. In fact, they lend their name to the whole archipelago – when the Spanish explorers first came to the islands, they thought the shells of these giant tortoises resembled a Spanish-style saddle, or “galapago.”

Fact Sheet

  • Average size at maturity: 4 feet (some can be as tall as 5 feet)
  • Average weight: 475 pounds (some weigh as much as 550 pounds)
  • Population: 19,000 (on the rise)
  • Status: Vulnerable
  • Range: Galapagos Islands highland region; annual migration to lowlands for breeding
  • Threats: Hunting; feral cats, dogs, and rats (only a threat to young tortoises and eggs)
  • Lifespan: Over 100 years

Each Population is Distinct

Many people don’t realize that there are several entirely distinct populations of Galapagos giant tortoises, each with a slightly different genetic signature.