by Staff Writers
Quito (AFP) March 12, 2013
The body of "Lonesome George," a giant Galapagos tortoise once believed to be the last of its kind, has been sent to New York to be embalmed and then returned home, the Galapagos National Park said Tuesday.
A rare Pinta Island giant tortoise, George died June 24, 2012 at an estimated 100 years of age.
At the time, he was believed to be the last of the Pinta Island tortoises, but scientists have since found at least 17 other Galapagos tortoises with similar genetic traits to George, raising hopes for keeping the endangered species going.
His remains were flown Monday night to New York where the Museum of Natural History will preserve him with a taxidermic procedure that will take eight to nine months to complete.
The body will then be returned to the Galapagos and put on display at a museum in the location where he was first discovered in 1971.
Giant tortoises have life spans of up to 180 years, growing to 1.8 meters (five feet nine inches) long and nearly 400 kilograms (880 pounds) in weight.
British naturalist Charles Darwin, who visited the Galapagos in 1835, looked to its tortoises as he developed his theory of natural selection.
The islands, which are 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off Ecuador's Pacific coast, are famed for the large number of species that have developed there in isolation.
Sumatran tiger kills Indonesian farmer: villagers
The body of Karman Lubis, 32, was found decapitated around one kilometre (0.6 miles) from a cocoa plantation on Sumatra island at 02:00 on Tuesday (1900 GMT Monday), while his head was found hours later in another area, a relative said.
Lubis' right hand was still missing, Amiruddin Nasution added, saying he was likely attacked by a tiger sighted days earlier near their village of Rantau Panjang, adjacent to the Batang Gadis National Park on the island's north.
A national park office staff member said there were no witnesses to confirm a tiger was to blame.
"Given the body's condition, he could have been attacked by a bear, a clouded leopard or a tiger," said the staff member, who declined to be named.
The Sumatran tiger is the world's smallest tiger and is critically endangered, with only an estimated 400 to 500 alive on the Indonesian island.
Rampant deforestation and poaching have led to a decrease in the number of Sumatran tigers, experts say.
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com
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