One of the great icons of the natural world has passed on, that being Lonesome George, the last survivor of a sub-species on giant tortoise that was once plentiful in the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos island, made famous by Darwin’s Origin of Species, has often been referred to as “The Cradle of Biodiversity”. Lonesome George didn’t become a loner by any natural selection, though; the archipelago had many giant tortoises until the 1800s, when the island’s tortoise populations were devastated by exploitative eco-looters.
Unfortunately, Not Curious George
Darwin’s theory of evolution apparently didn’t include the importance of the libido of species, as many attempts to get Lonesome George interested in a mate (and thus to preserve, at least in part, his sub-species). But there must’ve been a reason why they didn’t name him “Curious George”, and so his loss is felt by those who know and love the Galapagos islands in many ways, from his quirky personality – yes, tortoises have personalities – to his place in the heirarchy of the animal kingdom.
The giant tortoises that remain in the Galapagos Islands will continue to amaze tourists and researchers alike. Whatever one might think about the various religious conundrums that Darwin’s theory may or may not have caused, the splendor of the Islands cannot be denied, and it is a region that (no matter what) is nothing less than a gift to the Earth from God. It is home to a readily-observed selection of species of bird, fish and lizard populations, ranging from the Blue-Footed Booby to the aquatic iguana, along with seals and penguins – the only known penguins anywhere in equatorial waters.
The preservation of the island’s endemic wildlife is the most fitting memoriam that anyone can make to Lonesome George, who will be missed by many, and that is the goal of the Ecuadorian government (which controls the islands). George’s century of life saw many tremendous changes in the world. Some things haven’t changed much, though, with luxury cruise ships crossing the ocean to exotic destinations. 100 years ago it was the Titanic. Today, it’s available online, with Galapagos Islands travel just a few clicks away.