Lonesome George, other Galápagos tortoises, new research


This 27 February 2018 video says about itself:

Galápagos Tortoise Movement Ecology Programme

The film captures the hidden mystery of the lives of giant tortoises, among the longest lived vertebrates on earth. It illustrates the diverse ecological roles played by Galápagos tortoises and how the environment has shaped complex yet predictable patterns on movement, morphology and ecological relationships among tortoises across the Galápagos Archipelago.

It demonstrates how a team of conservation biologists developed and implemented a research programme that revealed the hitherto unknown secret lives of Galápagos tortoises – one of the earth’s most iconic wildlife species. It documents the movement ecology of tortoises, their feeding ecology, their role as ecosystem engineers, and their pivotal role in ecosystems.

Touching on their conservation history from the time humans discovered the islands, and how humans will determine the fate of tortoises and their habitats. It demonstrates how scientific research can inform conservation management, and highlight the importance of pure and applied research toward understanding and conserving the tortoises and the ecosystems they shape.

From Yale University in the USA:

In death, Lonesome George reveals why giant tortoises live so long

December 3, 2018

Lonesome George’s species may have died with him in 2012, but he and other giant tortoises of the Galápagos are still providing genetic clues to individual longevity through a new study by researchers at Yale University, the University of Oviedo in Spain, the Galápagos Conservancy, and the Galápagos National Park Service.

Genetic analysis of DNA from Lonesome George and samples from other giant tortoises of the Galápagos — which can live more than 100 years in captivity — found they possessed a number of gene variants linked to DNA repair, immune response, and cancer suppression not possessed by shorter-lived vertebrates.

The findings were reported Dec. 3 in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

“Lonesome George is still teaching us lessons”, said Adalgisa “Gisella” Caccone, senior researcher in Yale’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and co-senior author of the paper.

In 2010, Caccone began sequencing the whole genome of Lonesome George, the last of the species Chelonoidis abingdonii, to study evolution of the tortoise population on the Galápagos. Carlos Lopez-Otin at the University of Oviedo in Spain analyzed this data and other species of tortoises to look for gene variants associated with longevity.

“We had previously described nine hallmarks of aging, and after studying 500 genes on the basis of this classification, we found interesting variants potentially affecting six of those hallmarks in giant tortoises, opening new lines for aging research”, Lopez-Otin said.

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