New species of tortoise in Galapagos claimed

This Aug. 30, 2015 photo released by Galapagos National Park shows a new species of tortoise on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. The national park said in a statement on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 that the discovery of the species brings to 15 the number of known species of giant tortoise living on the archipelago. The newly identified species is estimated to number 250 and was christened Chelonoidis donfaustoi after park ranger Fausto Llerena. (AP Photo/Galapagos National Park)

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Scientists announced Wednesday the discovery of a new species of giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador through genetic testing.

The tortoise is the 15th known species on the archipelago, four of which are extinct. Its discovery was announced in a paper published online by PLOS One.

Yale University biologist Gisella Caccione led the investigation that identified the new species, which lives on Santa Cruz island.

The discovery will help protect and restore the tortoise, which is vulnerable as its numbers are estimated at 250, said Washington Tapia, head of giant tortoise conservation at Galapagos National Park.

That compares to more than 2,000 of the other species living on a different part of the island, Chelonidis porteri.

The new species was christened Chelonoidis donfaustoi after longtime park ranger and conservationist Fausto Llerena.

Tapia said scientists had long suspected that the species was different given that its shell was less dome-like.

The scientists said they suspected Chelonoidis donfaustoi was introduced on Santa Cruz at one point from a different island.

The unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos inspired naturalist Charles Darwin.

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