Tuesday, November 15, 2005

'Darwin's pet' turns 175

Today is the birthday of one of the world's oldest living animals. Harriet, a Galapagos tortoise living in Steve Irwin's zoo, celebrated her 175th with a hibiscus-flower cake. She was born in the same year as Emily Dickinson.

Legend has it that Harriet once belonged to Charles Darwin, who collected her and two other tortoises from the islands in 1835. But the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that there's some controversy over the story:


While DNA evidence shows Harriet hatched on one of the Galapagos islands 175 years ago, her DNA also shows she came from an island that Darwin never visited.

Ms Stewart says there could be an explanation for how Harriet came from Santa Cruz Island but was found on James Island.

"Giant tortoises were a commodity to be traded. The other thing is of course that her parents might have been moved from Santa Cruz to James Island and then bred, producing Harriet," she said.


Sadly, Pat Robertson's birthday card for Harriet seems to have got lost in the post.

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