Lonesome George To Be Embalmed

I'm not sure if it is really called "embalmed" when done to a tortoise, but it is the same idea. Lonesome George was a Galapagos Tortoise, Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii, who was known for some time a the last living individual of his subspecies. He lived on Pinta Island in the Galapagos. He died on my birthday last year at the age of "more than 100 years old." These tortoises numbered over a quarter of a million a few centuries to just a few thousand today.

The latest news is that George will be embalmed, or preserved, at the Museum of Natural History in New York City and returned to the Galapagos at a later time.

A 2007 study of the genetics of Galapagos Tortoises (with this followup) suggests that George is not really the last of his kind. There are over a dozen others! It turns out that the tortoises on this particular island are genetically diverse and have relatives on other islands, as a result of natural and human-caused dispersal of the animals.

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