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Lonesome George Is Dead At 100 154

New submitter camperdave writes "Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon, died on Sunday of unknown causes, the Galapagos National Park said. He was thought to be about 100 years old."
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Lonesome George Is Dead At 100

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  • Subspecies! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @12:20AM (#40448743) Homepage Journal
    Let's get the pedantic train started early: George was the last of his subspecies (Canoe gets this right... in one of two mentions.) A lot of other sources have been saying species incorrectly. Here's the corresponding Wikipedia page []. There are still giant tortoises on Galapagos, just not any of the ones native to the island of La Pinta.
    • by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @01:02AM (#40449013) Journal

      Organisms that belong to different subspecies of the same species are capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring

      Here, then, Lonesome George was a subspecies anomaly. He got more action than any slashdotters with a 4-digit user identifier, but I suppose that really isn't saying too much.

    • If it was just a subspecies, why were there no offspring with other subspecies?

    • by Quila ( 201335 )

      It's a way environmentalists can get more attention. Take a species that may or may not be endangered, but isn't anywhere close to extinct. Subdivide by minor differences of no importance. Now you have lots of "species" (we'll leave out the "sub" part in the press releases) that are close to extinction.

      Or even better, find a species that has a small subpopulation that is slightly different, declare it to be another species, and now it's endangered and you can wall-off huge areas of land from human use.

      • In all honesty, that's unnecessary. There are more than enough legitimately rare animals now that need protection. Not that it doesn't happen—the story Crowdsourcing and Scientific Truth [] from last month led to this gem, regarding the extinct ivory-billed woodpecker:

        The weirdest part of the ivory-bill's resurrection is that if you look back through the past four decades, it turns out the bird has come back to life many times before. The ivory-bill seems to rise like a phoenix at times of environmental anxiety. And each time the sighting has been debunked, and then afterward some great section of wilderness has been declared protected and everyone feels better for a while.

        After a 1966 disputed sighting in Texas, 84,550 acres became the Big Thicket National Preserve. When the ivory-bill was sighted/not sighted in a South Carolina swamp in 1971, the outcome was the creation of Congaree National Park. Alex Sanders, who as a member of South Carolina's House of Representatives fought to preserve the land, told me that when people ask him where the ivory-bill is, he says, "I don’t know where he is now, but I know where he was when we needed him."

  • DNA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fragMasterFlash ( 989911 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @12:20AM (#40448745)
    Was his DNA sequenced? Has any of his genetic material been preserved? It would really be sad if the best we can offer the last specimen of such a magnificent species is a spot in a museum display case for his carcass.
    • Re:DNA? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @12:30AM (#40448805) Homepage Journal
      It looks like [] DNA from Lonesome George (along with many other specimens from the archipelago) were collected a few years ago and used in some analyses, suggesting they were at least partially sequenced. That article mentions sequencing of the full genome of Galapagos tortoises in general, but not necessarily George in particular. I would expect that it would be under way now if it wasn't already, however, especially with the recent affordability of sequencing.
      • Geez, stop being so informative!

        Seriously though, thanks, it's always nice to have actual expertise in these discussions.

        • Re:DNA? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @01:55AM (#40449269) Homepage Journal
          Informative karma is the cheapest karma. O, were it only that these words might be found insightful or interesting! (But I'll settle for funny.)
    • I only hope they make two, so they can be Social George.

    • Even so, if it HASN'T, I'm sure some of his DNA may yet still be available, even if it requires a little digging. It isn't like he died 5,000 years ago.

      My faith in scientists (boy, did THAT combination of words make me wince...) leads me to believe that a necropsy was more then likely performed, including the taking of tissues for analysis. The next question is what would we do with it? Is it possible to insert male DNA into the sperm of another tortoise subspecies? An already fertilized egg? Far out of my

  • Maybe he was lonely. Pity, they were so delicious, I've heard and such a delicious animal should never be lonely - muhahahahaha.
  • I would've never guessed George Thorogood could've even made it to that age, what with his pal Johnny Walker and his brothers Black and Red.

  • DNA Record (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SealBeater ( 143912 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @01:32AM (#40449171) Homepage

    I hope we keep extensive, redundant dna samples. There's no reason we can't at least keep a record for posterity.

    • This needs a +1, agreed.

      We can't know in advance just what we'd do with those samples, but we definitely should keep them around just in case we need that data years in the future... and go all "Oh drat! Forgot to backup our animals.."

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @01:49AM (#40449237) Journal

    Even if his DNA wasn't sequenced, it should be possible to clone him (and the females mentioned in the article). I'm hoping they took tissue samples from the females, otherwise there would just be an endless line of lonesome georges (unless he could be bred with other sub-species).

    I would assume that cloning reptiles is much easier than cloning mammals, didn't they do a frog decades ago? Of course it would be ironic if, due to "mistakes" in the cloning process, they expressed some long inactive part of the DNA and ended up with a dinosaur instead! (I'm not sure if a turtle is technically a dinosaur already but you know what I mean; big, scary and capable of starring in a movie).

    • Oh, give me a clone
      Of my own flesh and bone
      With its Y chromosome changed to X.
      And after it's grown,
      Then my own little clone
      Will be of the opposite sex.

      Clone, clone of my own,
      With its Y chromosome changed to X.
      And when I'm alone
      With my own little clone
      We will both think of nothing but sex.

      The Clone Song: Isaac Asimov []

  • Does anyone know whether tortoises of his kind have high long-term memory capability? I find myself wondering whether he would remember the loss of so many family members over the years thanks to humans who were not conscious of the ramifications of what they were doing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by 6Yankee ( 597075 )

      I find myself wondering whether he would remember the loss of so many family members

      Not any more...

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      That would require not only memory but a great deal of understanding. I find it hard to accept a tortoise could possess such mental power. Given lizards are older than mammals were that the case I suspect we'd all be cowering in the shadow of our overload's shells.

  • ...all the way down.


  • Age (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @02:42AM (#40449463)

    "About 100"

    At least now they can chop him in half and count the rings.

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @02:43AM (#40449469) Journal

    Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon, died on Sunday of unknown causes, the Galapagos National Park said. He was thought to be about 100 years old.

    Anyone else misread that as "conservative icon" and think this was going to be a story about a pre-Tea Party republican senator?

  • Clean livin'. Clean livin'.
    • You mean give up drinking, gambling, loose cars & fast women?

      You might not live to be 100, but it'll sure feel like it!

      • ... drinking, gambling, loose cars & fast women...

        Why do you think he only lived to 100. That's young for a tortoise.

  • Maybe he's just having a nap? He is 100 after all.. is he wearing his slippers?

    But seriously - just how do you know a giant tortoise is dead? Did they check his pulse? Did they wait until he started to smell? (I refer back to him being 100..)

  • All the news agencies had already covered and forgotten this story by now.

    Frankly, I think a tortoise could have gotten this story up on his own front page in less time...
  • With the money you get from shill articles and oh /. can you answer something I could have easily googled...
    you should pay someone to get these articles out faster than a week later.

    Slashdot, News for nerds, recapped, in case you didn't see it on the other 30 sites out there. Stuff that mattered...


  • by Yoda222 ( 943886 )
    From my science courses, I know that God put the dinosaurs fossils in the ground, and that evolution don't exists. We always have the same species/subspecies/... form the beginning of the world (arround 6000 years ago.) So how does that fits in the model ? - Georges never exists, God just gives us a dead body and implant some fake memories in our brain ? - Georges will reborn (and he is in fact the son of God) ? - Some other explanation ?
    • According to Creationists, the species now around are unchanged from back then, but we didn't have the same species then as we have now.
      • I don't know what crazy creationists you are talking to, but we don't all believe like that. I'm sure you'll say that I'm grasping at straws, but I'm sure the bible explains most of the dinosaurs and stuff. In particular, in the Garden of Eden, when God cursed the serpent. In my own belief system, this is when God killed all the dinosaurs. And yes evolution does exist, I just don't believe that we were once single celled organisms. I do believe that all species change over time.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus