A Seychelles giant tortoise named Jonathan is the oldest known tortoise at 182 years old. Residing on the tropical island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, Jonathan was brought to the island in 1882. He was estimated to be about 50 years old at the time of his arrival, and is the only survivor of the four tortoises brought to Saint Helena. Giant tortoises are among the longest living animals on the planet, and thought to live over 200 years. Yet it is difficult to confirm this idea as the tortoises usually outlive the people studying them. Besides Jonathan, other giant tortoises have lived well into the history books: Harriet at 176, Esmeralda at 170, and Adwaita whose lifespan was measured to be 255 years.
More about tortoises:
- While the term "turtle" refers to any shelled reptile, tortoises are those that only live on land.
- The shell of a tortoise or turtle is fused bone and contains a rib cage, spinal cords, and nerve endings. The nerve endings allow the creatures to feel movement against them.
- Eleven species of giant tortoises live on the Galápagos islands as of 2014. When Charles Darwin arrived at the islands 1835, there were 15 species. The tortoises are listed as endangered species and protected by the Ecuadorian government.