RIP Lonesome George

June 24, 2012 • 5:58 pm

Lonesome George passed away today in Ecuador. If you’re an evolutionary biologist, you’ll know who I’m talking about. He was 100 years old, and they don’t make them like him any more.

I saw the guy about two and a half years ago; he looked pretty good then. But when they found him this morning, his body was motionless. An associate reported sadly that “his life cycle came to an end.”

h/t: Steve

22 thoughts on “RIP Lonesome George

    1. Tthis is sad & bad & the fault of us humans. People talk about saving iconic species such as apex predators & larger herbivores, & perhaps they have a point, but I think I agree with the zero tolerance to species loss approach, like

  1. Selection for delectability was an unfortunate trait development for his species. Same for whales – they need modifications to make them unpalatable to humans.

  2. Poor George, I’ve always thought that being the last of your species must be a special kind of misery, though he probably didn’t give it a great deal of deep philosophical consideration.

  3. Saw him on a wildlife documentary with Sir David Attenborough, and instantly fell in love with him.. an absolutely magnificent animal. Such a shame..

  4. Synchronicity and a question:

    Todays local medical news is, they claim, that Pasteur Institute has found a type case of viable stem cells 17 days after death in a 95 year old female. (Frozen in an oxygen poor environment.) Earlier record was 1.5 days.

    Can tissue samples w stem cells be used from dead animals for cloning in these one-of-a-kind organisms but with near relatives usable for fetus development? Probably not, because they haven’t tried it before.

    But then, why not? Haven’t they gotten around to try cloning turtles yet?

    As I remember it, clones can be fertile. You could in principle bootstrap to a viable population if you are only short one gender as here, unless I’m mistaken.

    1. To be clear, I think the stem cells were a special case of going dormant for later repair. I didn’t mean they were especially suited for cloning.

  5. I was heartbroken when I heard this late last night. He was on my life list. For those of us who dearly love those shell-tered species, he was like a rockstar. To think that he survived hunting, invasive goats and rats, Ecuadorian fishermen’s attempts at his execution, and being mistaken for a feral goat and almost shot during his discovery…but failed to reproduce. I always assumed I would have plenty of time to visit him…

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