Charles Island Tortoise (Geochelone nigra galapagoensis), FMNH no. 13523. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. Conservation status: extinct. A subspecies of the Galapagos Giant Tortoise that is now extinct. This specimen was collected by K. P. Schmidt. S. N. Shurcliff's 1930 account described going 'down a dark narrow shaft with a long rope and came into a large underground cavern... we discovered several dozen shells of the extinct Charles Island tortoise... extinct for more than a hundred years... (they) must have fallen down the shaft and died in the cave for lack of food.'
As biologists describe new species and add to our understanding of the interrelated nature of life on Earth, a species becomes extinct every 20 minutes (100 to 1000 times the background extinction rate as seen in the fossil record). Collections in natural history museums play important roles in conservation, education and research. Most of that work and the associated specimens are not on public display in museumsÃ¢€š typically, less than five percent of specimens are exhibited.