With the death of the aptly named Lonesome George, so went the last of the Pinta Island tortoises on the Galapagos Islands.
Researchers at Yale are now hoping to spur efforts to revive the species using DNA and crossbreeding over the next century or more.
“It would be the first time that a species was recovered after having been declared extinct,” Edwin Naula, director of the Galapagos National Park, told the Associated Press.
“This is going to take about 100 to 150 years,” Naula added.
GlobalPost reported in June that Lonesome George was discovered on Pinta Island in 1972
The discovery of George was a surprise given that at the time, scientists believed that his species was already extinct.
The researchers recently took samples from 1600 tortoises on the islands and found 17 with similar genetic traits, said AFP.
The tortoises were taken back to a breeding center in California where they will be bred to recreate the species.
Currently there are thousands of various types of turtles that occupy the Galapagos Islands.
At one point the number of turtles dropped to 3000, but creative breeding efforts have brought many species back to life.