5 Interesting Things You May Not Have Known About Giant Tortoises

The giant tortoises that inhabit particular tropical islands are, in many ways, emblematic of those places. They often develop into giant specimens, capable of reaching a length of four feet and a weight of up to 300 kilogrammes. The Seychelles, the Mascarenes, and the Galapagos are home to or have been home to these lizards in the past.


Around 250 million years ago, a group of reptiles that these creatures belong to first made its appearance on Earth. Around 70 or 80 million years ago, during the Upper Cretaceous, some had already reached their full size. Tortoises first arrived in the Galapagos Islands around one million years ago. Around 100,000 years ago, the majority of the huge species started becoming extinct one by one. There were at least 20 species and subspecies on the islands of the Indian Ocean just 250 years ago, and there were 14 or 15 subspecies in the Galapagos Islands.


Buccaneers who preyed on Spanish treasure ships visited the Galapagos Islands throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. It was an easy method to stock up on food by filling a ship’s hold with tortoises, a practise that was perpetuated by whalers in the years that followed: “whaling skippers were almost poetic in their admiration of tortoise flesh, terming it much more delectable than chicken, swine, or beef.” They said that the flesh of the gigantic tortoise was “succulent meat” and that the oil from their bodies was as pure as butter. However, the greatest part was that the giants could hibernate in the moist environment of a ship for at least a year.


Only one of the Indian Ocean’s species still exists in the wild today, and that is the Aldabra giant tortoise. Two more are said to exist in captive or re-released populations, but some genetic studies have cast doubt on the validity of these as separate species. The Galapagos Islands are home to 11 subspecies of tortoises, but they are the only place in the world where they are found.


Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles is home to around 150,000 people, making it the location with the biggest population on the planet at the present time. Despite their apparent similarities, the tortoises really represent two distinct lines of evolutionary descent. The tortoises that live in the Seychelles, Mascarenes, and Galapagos originated in adjacent Madagascar, whereas the Galapagos tortoises originated in nearby Ecuador.


The average lifetime of a giant tortoise is over 100 years, making it one of the longest-living creatures on earth. Giant tortoises are found all over the planet. When she passed away in Tonga in 1965, the Madagascar radiated tortoise Tu’i Malila had reached the age of 188. It was initially believed that Harriet was one of the three Galapagos tortoises brought back to England from Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage. However, it was later shown that Harriet was actually from an island that was never even visited by Darwin. Harriet passed away in 2006, and the Australia Zoo reported that she had lived for 176 years. Additionally, an Aldabra gigantic tortoise by the name of Adwaita passed away on March 23, 2006 in the Alipore Zoological Gardens in Kolkata.
It is estimated that he had lived somewhere about 255 years by the time he was donated to the zoo in the 1870s after having been acquired from the estate of Lord Robert Clive. They were captured and murdered for food in such enormous numbers at the time of its discovery that by the year 1900, they had almost completely vanished from the face of the earth. Giant tortoises are currently subject to stringent conservation legislation and are recognised as a species that is in danger of extinction.

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