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'Darwin's tortoise' dies, age 176

RIP Harriet

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A 176 year-old tortoise called Harriet, which some believe was one of three tortoises taken from the Galapagos Islands by Charles Darwin, has died in Australia.

DNA tests have shown that the tortoise is the right age to have been picked up by Darwin when he was on his 1835 tour of the Galapagos aboard HMS Beagle. However, the same tests showed that Harriet is from an island Darwin never visited.

Harriet would have been about the size of a dinner plate when she was taken from her island back to Britain. At the time of her death, she was considerably larger, living up to the 'Giant' part of her species' name.

Most recently, Darwin's possible buddy was living at Australia Zoo, where she was cared for by zoo owner Steve "crocodile hunter" Irwin.

A tearful Irwin told CNN: "She is possibly one of the oldest living creatures on the planet and her passing today is not only a great loss for the world but a very sad day for my family. She was a grand old lady."

Harriet died shortly after suffering a heart attack last Thursday. ®

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