Giant Tortoise

Found Extinct Animals: Giant Bee & Tortoise Return from the Dead

With the concern about our planet becoming an everyday conversation, conservation has taken leaps. Humans are desperately trying to save species from the brink of extinction. One such example is the Northern White Rhino, which only has one individual left in the world. But what about those animals that have disappeared? Can they ever return?

Although the announcement of an extinct animal implies that the species is doomed and can never return, history has proven otherwise. We all make mistakes, from scientists, biologists, conservationists, and the public. Take the Black-footed Ferret, for instance. Experts declared the ferret extinct in the year 1979, but there were sightings only two years later. How many more of these unsolved mysteries are there?

As of recently, there are two animals that we thought lost, only to have them reappear. These are Wallace’s Giant Bee and the Fernandina Giant Tortoise. However, to understand the significance of their resurrection, one must first learn about the history of these found extinct animals.

A History of Two Found Extinct Animals

Wallace’s Giant Bee (Megachile pluto) gets its name fr Alfred Russel Wallace, who found them in the year 1958. What he located was an insect with massive jaws and a white band across its stomach. The body length totaled 1.5 inches with a wingspan of about 2.5 inches at most, making it roughly the size of your thumb.

Wallace’s findings indicate that this giant arthropod lived on three islands near Indonesia. Not much could be completed in terms of research as they soon became nonexistent. Experts declared the species extinct around 1961, only a few short years after Wallace had found it in the first place.

Many would be quite uneasy when hearing about a bee of such a size. Before establishing who found this terror, let’s discuss the other species previously thought to be extinct.

Tortoises are known for their large bodies and longevity. The Fernandina Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus) is no exception. With a large frame, it inhabited one of the Galápagos islands. The California Academy of Sciences was the first to discover this herbivore in 1906, and scientists claimed the specimen was the only living member. Unfortunately, this expedition led to the possible end of the species, as the single individual was killed.

It wasn’t until 1964 that tortoise droppings were found on the island. Further evidence collected in 2013 provided an unconfirmed sighting. Both of these accounts were inconclusive and failed to bring the Fernandina Tortoise back.

Both the Wallace’s Giant Bee and the Fernandina Tortoise fooled scientists into thinking that they were no longer living. So where exactly did these creatures make their debut?

How Scientists Found Extinct Animals

For one to intentionally look for a giant bee, there has to be a high level of intrigue. Not everyone can do that, and most wouldn’t want to try. Clay Bolt, however, was that guy. Being a conservation photographer, he was the first to photograph this arthropod. Teaming up with a group of scientists, Bolt gathered the notes from Wallace’s first encounter with this giant bee. After two decades of hard work, Bolt finally got to photograph and rediscover this lost species. And although the thought of a giant bee coming back to life might make you want to stay away from Indonesia, keep in mind that these bugs don’t attack without ample provoking.

After 38 years, Wallace’s Giant Bee was able to show its antennae once more. But what about the tortoise?

As for the Fernandina Tortoise, experts in Ecuador found a female member of the species, and the national government alerted the public. Washington Tapia, from the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative or GTRI, not only confirmed the rediscovery but also located evidence of a second individual. Tracks and scents belonging to another member of this species may indicate that the female is not alone.

Found extinct animals are a treasure that conservationists and biologists hope to get more often. And though you may not want a giant bee or tortoise roaming your neighborhood, they do help current species fill niches in the environment. For instance, Wallace’s Giant Bee can help pollinate flowers. Any animal extinct mistakes are considered a relief to most.

Read more about fascinating found extinct animals by following The Pegasus Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to animal protection and environmental preservation. We’re committed to educating and creating eco-conscience for a better tomorrow. Read more about us on our website!