RESEARCH: Why does the Giant Tortoise live for a century or more?

Why does the Giant Tortoise have a long life span? 

Why does the Giant Tortoise, particularly the Galapagos Island Giant Tortoise, a land tortoise, live for a century – a 100 years – or more? 

An individual Pinta Island Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii), called Lonesome George, died in 2012, at the age of 100 or more. Scientists used his body for research to determine why he lived so long.

Scientific researchers studying longevity looked at Lonesome George’s DNA – his genetic code – for answers. 

Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea)

They found three preliminary (early) findings:

  1. The Giant Tortoise has a robust immune system that enables it to fight diseases and illnesses.
  2. The Giant Tortoise has an efficient DNA repair system that enables it it to rapidly rebuild parts of its body that are wearing out.
  3. The Giant Tortoise is resistant to cancer. 

The evolutionary scientists will continue to study the Galapogas Island Giant Tortoise for more answers. 

Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea)
Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea)

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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