Unnamed taxon of Galapagos Tortoise
Distribution of tortoise taxa on Santa Cruz
Almost 150 years after Charles Darwin proposed a mechanism for biological evolution, previously unrecognized diversity has been discovered among the giant tortoises of the Galápagos, Geochelone nigra, whose distinctiveness was an inspiration in formulating the theory of natural selection.
The new taxon (species or sub-species) of Galápagos tortoise was characterized by a team of scientists led by Michael Russello, Adalgisa Caccone and Jeffrey Powell in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale. Conservation of its habitat is an immediate concern because the human population on the island of Santa Cruz is growing rapidly. The team emphasized the importance of accurate taxa identification for effective conservation policy and preservation of genetic diversity in a recent report in Biology Letters published by the Royal Society of London.
The current tortoise populations on the island of Santa Cruz, long believed to comprise a single taxon, are in fact, three genetically distinct lineages that are yet to be formally named.
Janet Rettig Emanuel | EurekAlert!
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