Saturday, July 25, 2009

After 15 years' foreplay, 'Lonesome George' finally mates -

Lonesome George, the world's most inveterate bachelor, may finally be about to settle down.

Lonesome George, the last tortoise of his kind, may be about to produce offspring with a tortoise of a similar species after 15 years of coercing

The 90-year-old Pinta island tortoise is the last of his kind, and scientists have been coaxing the giant tortoise to mate with a similar species for 15 years – but, despite being in his sexual prime, George has shown little interest.

Last year, one of the many female giant tortoises to have tried their luck finally succeeded in seducing him. It was the first time George had succumbed in 36 years – but the resulting eggs turned out to be infertile.

Undeterred, his Galapagos Island handlers tried again this year. And on Monday, they found five eggs in his compound at the Charles Darwin research station on the island of Santa Cruz.
Now conservationists must wait out the 120-day incubation period to see if any of this year's batch contains a tiny tortoise sprog. If so, it may be time to give George a new nickname.

The tale of Lonesome George, the 90-year old Pinta Tortoise who appears to have mated successfully for the first time, has many lessons for the rest of us.

Perseverance is one. Scientists in the Galapagos had been coaxing George, the last of his kind, to procreate with a female from a subspecies for the past 15 years.

Such were the frustrations that it was suggested, at one stage, that George might be gay. But he was seduced in the end. All those matchmaking efforts were not in vain.

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