Poor Lonesome George...


It sucks being the last male of your species. Take Lonesome George, for example. George is believed to be the last surviving member of the giant tortoise subspecies Geochelone nigra abingdonii, found only on the Galapagos Island of Pinta. While some scientists believe that a few last Pinta tortoises may exist on the nearby island of Isabella, none have been located. And so Lonesome George remains lonely.

Even if a mate did turn up, Lonesome George has shown little -- okay, zero -- interest in breeding. It's likely that George has never witnessed tortoises of his own species breeding, and doesn't know how or why to do it himself. Efforts to teach or encourage him have been for naught. Even months of tries to extract his sperm through (there's no easy way to say this) manual stimulation were fruitless.

It's as if Lonesome George knows that he is the last of his species, and he has resigned himself to entering the long, dark night of extinction.

George is still young, and could easily live another 100 years. That's a long time to live as the poster child for extinction.

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Comments

Hey John,

John and I met Lonesome George back when we visited the Galapagos Islands. Glad there's still hope though, according to the original articles you cited.

Hope all is well.

--Deb

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