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Welcome to Superoceras, a blog about science and natural history, slightly biased towards paleontology and zoology, but inclusive of all sciences. Started in October of 2009, my goal is to communicate scientific knowledge (and the occasional piece of nonsense) in an informative and entertaining manner. Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, concerns, or criticism at superoceras(at)gmail(dot)com, and follow me on Twitter @Superoceras for all that and more in 140 characters or less!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Goodbye, Lonesome George.

Lonesome George in his corral at the Charles Darwin Research Center on Isla Santa Cruz.
In December 1971 , the last Pinta Island tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni) was discovered in the Galápagos.  This solitary male would come to be known as "Lonesome George", and he would spend the rest of his days serving as an international symbol for conservation.  As the last of his subspecies, much effort was put into trying to breed him with females of closely related subspecies, but all eggs laid were infertile.  Today, Lonesome George's life ended, and with it, another (sub)species has gone extinct.

The loss of one tortoise (or any tortoise for that matter) may seem trivial to some, but George's death is important to take note of.  He became the last of his species because of human activity.  His kind was over-hunted, and the introduction of a non-native, competing species to his home island put additional stress on an already struggling population.  Nothing was thought of it at the time. They are just tortoises after all, right?  I don't think so.  We have a considerable amount of power when it comes to the livelihood of the other organisms we share the planet with.  How we use that power is up to us.  It's our responsibility to be mindful of our choices, and be good stewards of this place we call home. Just because we can force a species in to extinction, doesn't mean we should.  Even if they are just tortoises.  Let the life and death of Lonesome George serve as a reminder of that.



2 comments:

  1. so as well the evolution dies with him...no next species that would link with its kind to be another form of species..so long amigo..will see you there at the end of the rainbow..

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    1. Sad but true. Extinction is forever.

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