With the passing of Lonesome George, a 100-year-old, 200-pound Galápagos tortoise often called the rarest animal in the world, the Pinta Island tortoise subspecies has now gone the way of the dodo bird and the quagga.
Ever since he arrived at Ecuador’s Galápagos National Park in the early 1970s, George has been paired with she-turtles whose genes, while not quite C. n. abingdoni, were close enough to make him a dad and keep his species going. But several mating attempts all resulted in unviable eggs. Finally, on Sunday at 8 a.m., the heir-less animal locals called El Solitario Jorge was found dead of natural causes.
Still, there may be hope for the species. A tortoise named Tony, living at the Prague Zoo, has a nearly identical shell to George’s, making it possible that Tony is a native Pinta Island purebred. Researchers are working to confirm the claim, but until then, we’ll let George’s Wikipedia page — which made the switch in conservation status from “endangered” to “extinct” — remain the saddest nail in the coffin.
Sorry, George. Sorry we couldn’t find you a babymama.