El Universo: Ancestor of Galápagos Tortoises in Amazon Basin

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Present-day Galápagos tortoises on San Cristóbal Island

The Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo reports that according to Brazilian scientists,  ancestors of giant Galapagos tortoises may have lived in the Amazon Basin.

“A prehistoric tortoise several feet long found in the Brazilian Amazon region, is regarded by paleontologists as the most likely ancestor of the giant tortoises that live exclusively in the Galapagos archipelago, off the coast of Ecuador. The Chelonoidis prehistoric, the largest of its kind discovered so far in the world, was reconstructed by paleontologists from the Federal University of Acre (UFAC) from fossils found in 1995. ”

Project coordinator Edson Guilherme, a zoologist, told the newspaper,  “We spent almost two years working to reconstitute the animal as it was originally,” using 60% of the original shell.

The result is a stone, plaster and foam model, 5 feet long by 3 feet wide that reproduces the animal that lived in the Amazon about eight million years ago and bears remarkable similarities to present-day Galápagos tortoises.

To read the original article in Spanish, click here.