Offspring for Lonesome George?
Quito - After more than 30 years of waiting, hopes were rising again that the most famous tortoise on the Galapagos Islands, Lonesome George, may finally become a father and promote his robust genes for another generation.
One of the two females he has been living with for 16 years has laid six eggs, administrators of the Galapagos National Park said on Wednesday.
The 80-to-105-year-old tortoise is said by scientists at the Charles Darwin Research Station to be one of the last known of his tortoise subspecies.
He was found in 1972 on the islands, but has not fathered any hatchlings.
Scientists have taken some of the eggs and put them in a brooder set at 29.5°C, where they must wait for 120 days to find out if the eggs were fertilised.
Another batch of five eggs were put into incubator in July, with anticipated birth date of November.
Disappointment followed another brood of six eggs in 2008.
The vain search for tortoises like George, which can reach 270kg and live to be 200 years old, has taken scientists to another species for the females.
The Galapagos Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean about 1 000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, to which they belong.
Charles Darwin, the 19th Century father of the theory of evolution, took inspiration for his study from the exotic and singular wildlife found on the isolated island group.