The Galapagos tortoise, Geochelone spp., an endemic species of the Galapagos islands, is thought to have arrived in the Galapagos archipelago on rafts of debris. As it became distributed throughout the islands, it evolved into 14 distinct species of which 11 are still in existence and are endangered. In some species of Galapagos tortoise the shell is distinctly shaped (e.g., saddle-backed, domed) depending on whether the food sources require a head-raised or head-lowered posture during feeding. Galapagos tortoises can weigh up to 600 lbs with a shell five feet across, and live up to 150 years. For many years, sailors visiting the Galapagos islands would collect Galapagos tortoises and store them aboard ship, since the tortoises could live for months without food or water and would constitute a good source of meat for long voyages. It is thought that perhaps 200,000 tortoises perished this way.
These free-ranging, wild Galapagos tortoises were photographed in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island (Indefatigable).