#93 Pinta Island Tortoise

Extinct

These tortoise are extinct, though there seems to be a hybrid that has been found on another island. This kind, a saddleback tortoise, can live to be at least 150 years old. There was one, dubbed "Lonesome George" who was found all alone on Pinta Island in 1972 after it was assumed they had been extinct for some time. Sadly, he died in 2012 and they never found a mate for him.


Amazingly there seem to be a hybrid of the saddleback tortoises and a domed tortoise (the domed ones apparently did not taste as good as saddleback ones). It is thought that some were dumped over the side of ships after having been caught because sailors decided they did not need as many as they had caught. Shipwrecks may also have been the reason. Either way, saddleback tortoises could survive floating on their back in the sea for weeks, holding their head out of the water using their incredibly long necks. Those surviving tortoises made it to another island, and bred with domed tortoises that were living there. Scientists are doing research to find those with the most saddleback DNA in order to breed back to as pure of saddleback type as possible. There is some DNA from Lonesome George that has been saved, which I assume will be helpful in that as well.


I must say, I giggle quit a bit while painting this. I love how disapproving of me he looks, and it made me laugh. I've seen a lot of pictures where it looks like a tortoise is smiling or laughing, and if I paint another one I may do that. This just seemed to call for a disappointed in humans type mood though.

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