The Pinta Island turtle, also called the Pinta island giant tortoiseshell, Abingdon Island turtle, or Abingdon Island green turtle, is a species of Galapagos tortoiseshell which is probably now extinct. It was believed to be the last species on earth to be encountered by humans. There are only four species left. Among these, the Pinta Island giant tortoiseshell weighs in at over three pounds and has a stout, lanky body. Its head, neck, shoulders and shell cover are greatly expanded with a thick rind that separates it from other Galapagos Islands tortoiseshells. Its beak and claws are also unusually large.
It is said that the last of the four remaining abingdonii came ashore on San Cristobal Island in the year 1898. It then became extinct along with all of its subspecies. This caused a great loss to the world tortoiseshell industry because the price for each species quickly skyrocketed. However, there are rumors that an abingdonii was successfully brought back from extinction. In fact, the last remaining female is thought to have been captured off the Mexican beach at Cancun in 1998. Since then, efforts have been made to breed the abingdonii to produce more desirable baby tortoiseshells.
The Galapagos Island Turtle is one of the rarest of all of the Galapagos Islands tortoiseshells. Only about ten of the twenty-eight different species remain on earth. Some of the tiny Galapagos Island turtle species can only be seen at the Charles Darwin Station; others can only be found on Charles Darwin’s Island and in the nesting areas.
The Galapagos Island Turtle is known for the unique combination of a shell, which is covered in soft pleated brown color, and the black color of its head. The other is also the smallest among the Galapagos Islands tortoiseshells, but it is not uncommon to find the giant Galapagos tortoiseshell exceeding one foot in length. Despite being the smallest of the known Galapagos Island turtles, the largest tortoiseshell ever recorded was only twelve inches in length. Of course, this giant Galapagos tortoise was a male. Due to its great rarity, breeding efforts to produce more nthers has been extensive and expensive, making its capture affordable only to the richest people in the world.
When the last of the Galapagos Island turtles were successfully brought into the world, a survey was done to determine which of them actually continued to reproduce. Through the help of DNA analysis, scientists have determined that the Galapagos Island Tortoise is the only species which has a genetic change that makes it completely unique. It is interesting to note that in the previous ll century, another tortoise species was discovered on the Galapagos Island, which was called the “Pritchard tortoise.” This species did not continue to reproduce like the gal pagos tortoises, and instead became extinct.
There are many theories as to why this species was thought extinct, but recent research has concluded that the reason was a massive crash in the breeding program of the island tortoises. The plummet in breeding resulted in fewer females being able to survive, and consequently, a smaller number of these creatures were able to mate with males from other species on the island. Because they were unable to reproduce, all of their population was eventually exterminated, and they have never been seen since.