Lonesome George is a 5ft long, 200lb tortoise aged between 60 and 200. In 1971, he was discovered on the remote Galapagos island of Pinta, from which tortoises had supposedly been exterminated by buccaneering whalers and seal hunters. He has been at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz island ever since, on the off-chance that scientific ingenuity will conjure up a way of reproducing him and resurrecting his species. Meanwhile a million tourists and dozens of baffled scientists have looked on as the celebrity reptile shows not a jot of interest in the female company provided. Today, Lonesome George has come to embody the mystery, complexity and fragility of the unique Galapagos archipelago. His story echoes the challenges of conservation worldwide. It is a swashbuckling tale of combat and collecting on the high seas, Darwin, sexual dysfunction, hostages, moonlit escapes, culture clashes, cloning, DNA fingerprinting and eco-tourism.
HENRY NICHOLLS writes for many of the world's leading science periodicals including Nature and Science. Following his PhD in Evolutionary Ecology with Tim Birkhead (Promiscuity and The Red Canary), he edited The Encyclopedia of Life Sciences and wrote for BioMedNet News before becoming Editor of the leading history of science journal, Endeavour. He lives in south London with his wife and new son.