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Encyclopedia > Giant tortoise
Giant Tortoise
Galápagos Giant Tortoise
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Testudinidae

Giant tortoises are characteristic reptiles of certain tropical islands. They occur (some species are now extinct) in such places as Madagascar, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Réunion, the Galápagos Islands, Sulawesi, Timor, Flores and Java, often reaching enormous size — they can weigh as much as 300 kg (660 lbs) and can grow to be 1.3 m (4 ft) long. However, giant tortoises also once lived on the mainland of Asia, as follows from fossil finds in the Shivalik Hills in India. Today, the world's largest population inhabits Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles, where there are approximately 100,000 individuals. Image File history File links Mergefrom. ... Three living groups of tortoise can be considered giants: Galapagos tortoises Chelonoidis (nigra) species Seychelles giant tortoises Dipsochelys species African spurred tortoise Centrochelys sulcata The giant tortoises of the Mascarene islands Cylindraspis became extinct in the 18th century. ... Giant tortoise in the Galapagos. ... Binomial name (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824) Synonyms Geochelone elephantopus (Harlan, 1827) The Galápagos tortoise (or Galápagos giant tortoise), is the largest living tortoise, endemic to nine islands of the Galápagos archipelago. ... For other uses, see Scientific classification (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Animal (disambiguation). ... Typical Classes Subphylum Urochordata - Tunicates Ascidiacea Thaliacea Larvacea Subphylum Cephalochordata - Lancelets Subphylum Myxini - Hagfishes Subphylum Vertebrata - Vertebrates Petromyzontida - Lampreys Placodermi (extinct) Chondrichthyes - Cartilaginous fishes Acanthodii (extinct) Actinopterygii - Ray-finned fishes Actinistia - Coelacanths Dipnoi - Lungfishes Amphibia - Amphibians Reptilia - Reptiles Aves - Birds Mammalia - Mammals Chordates (phylum Chordata) include the vertebrates, together with... Reptilia redirects here. ... Families See text Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudinata, most of whose body is shielded by a special bony shell developed from their ribs. ... This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For the band, see Tortoise (band). ... For other uses, see Species (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Extinction (disambiguation). ... For the nature documentary series, see Galápagos (TV series). ... Sulawesi (formerly more commonly known as Celebes, IPA: a Portuguese-originated form of the name) is one of the four larger Sunda Islands of Indonesia and is situated between Borneo and the Maluku Islands. ... Timor is an island at the south end of the Malay Archipelago, divided between the independent state of East Timor, and West Timor, part of the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara with the surface of 11,883 sq mi (30,777 km²). The name is a variant of timur... Map of Flores Island Flores (Portuguese for flowers) is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, an island arc with an estimated area of 14,300 km² extending east from the Java island of Indonesia. ... Java (Indonesian, Javanese, and Sundanese: Jawa) is an island of Indonesia, and the site of its capital city, Jakarta. ... The Siwalik Hills (sometimes spelled Shiwalik, Shivalik, or Sivalik) are a sub-Himalayan mountain range running 1,600 km long from the Tista River, Sikkim, through Nepal and India, into northern Pakistan. ...

These animals belong to the most ancient group of reptiles, appearing about 250 million years ago. In the Upper Cretaceous, 70 or 80 million years ago some already became gigantic and about 1 million years ago these reptiles reached the Galápagos Islands. Until 100,000 years ago most of the gigantic species began to disappear for unknown causes and only 250 years ago there were at least 20 species and subspecies in islands of the Indian Ocean and 14 or 15 species in the Galapagos Islands. From those, only one of the species of the Indian Ocean survives in the wild, the Aldabra Giant Tortoise (two more are claimed to exist in captive or re-released populations, but some genetic studies have cast doubt on the validity of these as separate species) and 11 in Galápagos. For other uses, see Animal (disambiguation). ... Reptilia redirects here. ... Geography of the US in the late Cretaceous Late Cretaceous (also called the Upper Cretaceous) refers to the second half of the Cretaceous period, named after the famous white chalk cliffs of southern England, which date from this time. ...

They are one of the world's longest-living animals, with an average lifespan of 100 years or more. [citation needed] Harriet the Turtle, (Charles Darwin's Turtle) as reported by the Australia Zoo was 175 years old.


Species and subspecies

  • Cylindraspis indica - Réunion Giant Tortoise (extinct)
  • Cylindraspis inepta - Saddle-backed Mauritius Giant Tortoise (extinct)
  • Cylindraspis peltastes - Domed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise (extinct)
  • Cylindraspis triserrata - Domed Mauritius Giant Tortoise (extinct)
  • Cylindraspis vosmaeri - Saddle-backed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise (extinct)
  • Dipsochelys hololissa - Seychelles giant tortoise (extinct in the wild)
  • Dipsochelys arnoldi - Arnold's Giant Tortoise (extinct in the wild)
  • Geochelone gigantea/Dipspchelys dussumieri - Aldabra Giant Tortoise
  • Geochelone nigra - Galapagos Giant Tortoise
    • Geochelone nigra abingdoni - Abingdon Island Tortoise (Extinct in the wild)
    • Geochelone nigra becki - Volcan Wolf Tortoise
    • Geochelone nigra chathamensis - Chatham Island Tortoise
    • Geochelone nigra darwini - James Island Tortoise
    • Geochelone nigra ephippium - Duncan Island Tortoise (extinct in the wild)
    • Geochelone nigra galapagoensis - Charles Island Tortoise (extinct)
    • Geochelone nigra guntheri - Sierra Negra Tortoise
    • Geochelone nigra hoodensis - Hood Island Tortoise
    • Geochelone nigra microphyes - Volcan Darwin Tortoise
    • Geochelone nigra porteri - Indefatigable Island Tortoise
    • Geochelone nigra vandenburghi - Volcan Alcedo Tortoise
    • Geochelone nigra vicina - Iguana Cove Tortoise
  • Manouria emys - Asian Giant Tortoise
  • Meiolania platyceps (extinct)

Binomial name (Günther, 1877) Seychelles giant tortoise Dipsochelys hololissa has been thought to be extinct since the mid-19th century due to over-explotation on the granitic Seychelles islands. ... Binomial name Dipsochelys arnoldi Arnolds Giant Tortoise (Dipsochelys arnoldi) also known as the Seychelles saddle-backed tortoise inhabited the granitic Seychelles islands until around 1840. ... Binomial name Geochelone gigantea Schweigger, 1812 The Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Geochelone gigantea), from the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, is one of the largest tortoises in the world. ... Binomial name Geochelone nigra (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824) // Physical Description The Galápagos tortoises (or giant Galápagos tortoises), Geochelone spp. ... Trinomial name Geochelone nigra abingdoni (Günther, 1877) Lonesome George is the name given to the last known individual of the Pinta Island Tortoise, subspecies Geochelone nigra abingdonii, one of 13 subspecies of Galápagos tortoise native to the Galápagos Islands. ... For other uses, see Extinction (disambiguation). ... Synonyms Miolania Meiolania is an extinct genus of cryptodire turtle from the Pleistocene period. ...

See also

Island gigantism is a biological phenomenon by which the size of animals isolated on an island increases dramatically over generations. ...


  • IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 20 May 2006.

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Tortoise - Facts, Information, and Encyclopedia Reference article (446 words)
As with its aquatic cousins, the turtle and the terrapin, the tortoise is shielded from predators by a shell.
The giant tortoises of the Galápagos Islands helped Charles Darwin formulate his theory of evolution, since the isolated populations on the different islands, although descended from a common ancestor, had diverged to different forms.
Aldabra Giant Tortoise Dipsochelys dussumieri from Aldabra atoll in the Seychelles
Galapagos Islands Guided Tour - The Endangered Galapagos Giant Tortoise (1810 words)
Tortoise droppings, probably not more than a few years old, were found in the island in 1981, so there is a possibility that a second individual of this subspecies still exists (16).
Large numbers of tortoises were removed from the island in the early nineteenth century by whaling vessels, and introduced goats reduced the coastal lowlands to deserts, restricting the remaining tortoises to the interior (8).
MacFarland, C.G., Villa, J. and Toro, B. The Galapagos Giant Tortoises (Geochelone elephantopus) I. Status of the Surviving Populations.
  More results at FactBites »



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