Chelonoidis phantasticus: Giant Tortoise species

A giant tortoise, which was found alive in 2019, has now been confirmed to belong to a Galapagos species long believed extinct.

Key Facts

  • The giant species has been named Fernanda, because Fernandina Island is home to species.
  • The tortoise is the first of her species called Chelonoidis phantasticus, that has been identified in more than a century.
  • This was confirmed by researchers a paper in Nature Communications Biology.

About Chelonoidis phantasticus

Chelonoidis phantasticus means “fantastic giant tortoise”. It is commonly called as Fernandina Island Galapagos giant tortoise. The species was discovered in 1906 and thought extinct. But a single female was discovered on Fernandina Island in February 2019. In May 2021, a genetic test carried to confirm that the single tortoise is from a subspecies Chelonoidis niger phantasticus.


Fernanda was discovered in 2019. When it was discovered, ecologists doubted that she was actually a native phantasticus tortoise. She differed in appearance from male historical specimen. Fernanda was found on Fernandina Island itself.

About Fernandina Island

Fernandina Island is the third largest as well as youngest island of the Galapagos Islands. It is located to furthest west. It was formed by Galapagos hotspot. It is an active shield volcano, which is recently been erupting since April 11, 2009. Fernandina has an area of 642 km2, with 1,476 m height. The Summit caldera is about 6.5 km wide. In 1968, the caldera underwent a collapse and the part of caldera floor dropped by 350 m. Punta Espinoza is a narrow stretch of land, where several marine iguanas gather in large groups on the black lava rocks. Mangrove forests are found on the island.

The Galapagos Islands

These islands are a part of Republic of Ecuador and are an archipelago of volcanic islands. They are located in the Pacific Ocean and are distributed on either side of the equator. The islands surround the centre of Western Hemisphere.



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