Tortoise believed to be extinct for 100 years found in Galapagos

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Courtesy: Ecuador Ministry of the Environment

A species of tortoise believed to have been extinct for over 100 years has been discovered in the Galapagos, according to the government of Ecuador.

The last time anyone saw a "Chelonoidis phantasticus," known as a Fernandina Giant Tortoise, was in 1906.

Researchers on an expedition with the Giant Tortoise Restortation Initiative discovered an adult female tortoise on Sunday. The animal was buried in thick vegetation on Fernandina Island in the Galapagos.

Scientists believe the tortoise may be over 100 years old.

The expedition's leader said genetic studies will be conducted to "reconfirm" the reptile is a Fernandina Giant Tortoise.

"This encourages us to strengthen our search plans to find other [tortoises], which will allow us to start a breeding program in captivity to recover this species," said Danny Rueda, director of the Galapagos National Park.

Experts believe there may be more of the tortoises on Fernandina island since traces and excrements of other tortoises were also observed by members of the expedition.

The Galapagos island chain is located in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles off of the coast of Ecuador.