Efforts to find a mate for George and continue the Pinta tortoise line were unsuccessful, and his death in 2012 was thought to mark the end of the species. George was more than 100 years old when he died, but his keepers had hoped he would live for several more decades; Galápagos tortoises can live up to 150 years.
Recent developments, however, suggest that Lonesome George may not in fact have been the last of his kind. Back in 2008, scientists tagged some 1,600 giant tortoises found living near Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island in the Galápagos. When geneticists at Yale University analyzed blood samples taken from the tortoises in 2012, they discovered that 89 of the animals partly matched the genetic profile of the Floreana tortoise. (The full DNA profile of the Floreana had been obtained using museum samples.) Some even had genes suggesting that their parents were living purebred Floreanas, previously thought to have gone extinct long ago. In addition, 17 of the Wolf Volcano tortoises had significant amounts of Pinta DNA, meaning that some of George’s closest living relatives—maybe even his next of kin—still survived.
They’re just hard to see from the road, I guess.