lonesome george, the pinta island tortoise, has the “perfect” extinction story

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THE LAST OF THE PINTA ISLAND TORTOISES died in 2012. Known as Lonesome George, his story is “the perfect extinction story. It features a charismatic character with a recognizable face, an obvious villain, and the tireless efforts of naturalists. The population of the Pinta Island tortoise species was decimated by whalers hunting and eating them during the 19th century Zoologist József Vágvölgyi discovered George in 1971 and brought him into captivity. No other Pinta Island Tortoises have since been found.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the species extinct in the wild in 1996, while researchers attempted to breed George with other tortoises to at least preserve his genetic material. But George died—of natural causes—sparking news stories about his life and legacy, which media outlets continue to cover to this day.

But George’s story is not a typical story. Perhaps a better mascot of the extinction crisis is Plectostoma sciaphilum; a small snail called a microjewel for its beautiful, intricate shell, that inhabited a single limestone hill in Malaysia. During the 2000s, a cement company wiped the hill off the map for its valuable resources, rendering the microjewel snail extinct.”

The above was lifted from “All the Species Declared Extinct This Decade” by Ryan F. Mandelbaum for Gizmodo (December 16, 2019). It’s a lengthy article that lists and describes hundreds of species that have gone extinct in the past few years.

To read this article in its entirety, click HERE.

Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island Tortoises, has the perfect extinction story that features a charismatic character, an obvious villain, and the tireless efforts of naturalists. Click To Tweet

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FEATURED IMAGE. The photo at the top of this page is of Lonesome George, the tortoise, I found this photo of Lonseomse George on the American Museum of Natural History website. This is the first paragraph in that article. While the wiping out of many of species is caused by climate change, the destruction of others is not.


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