Spotting a sea turtle or Galapagos tortoise on the early wharfs and streets of San Francisco or Sacramento, California during the Gold Rush (1848-1855) would not have been a rare event. Massive population influx into the San Francisco Bay region during this time resulted in substantial impacts to native species and habitats of all taxa, but the demand for food resulted in many resources, turtles and tortoises included, being imported into the cities. Providing a fresh and delectable food source, these terrapin were brought to San Francisco and Sacramento to feed the hungry Gold Rush populous. Their taste, popularity and demand also resulted in small numbers being imported into gold mining towns in the San Joaquin Valley and foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s. Remarkable as this process was, the consumption and importation of both sea turtles and Galapagos tortoises during the Gold Rush pushed native populations of these species to the brink of extinction during the mid to late-nineteenth century. Declining numbers of terrapin and increased scientific curiosity, with a desire to safeguard these creatures for future generations, resulted in their eventually legal protection and conservation. In many ways the impacts of the decimation of terrapin in the eastern Pacific during the Gold Rush are still felt today, as conservation and breeding efforts continue in an attempt to return native turtle and tortoise populations to pre-Euro-American contact levels. This research describes the historical, and new archaeofaunal, evidence of the terrapin import market in San Francisco, Sacramento and beyond during the dynamic period of the California Gold Rush.



Charles Smith, ed., The Journals of Marine Second Lieutenant Henry Bulls Watson 1845–1848 (Washington, D.C.: History and Museums Division Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1990), 56. We are continually grateful to Kale Bruner for her thoughtful advice and encouragement in our tortoise and sea turtle research endeavors. Thank you as well to Jim Delgado for the many insights and guidance about Gold Rush-era history, archaeology, and comments provided on an earlier draft of this manuscript. Thank you to Teresa Steele, Carol Spencer and Jeanette Wyneken for providing invaluable tortoise and sea turtle identification advice. We are also grateful to Heather Yager at the California Academy of Sciences for providing access to the Galapagos tortoise archival image collections. Finally, C.C. sincerely thanks Emily Jones, for her continued support, inspiration, and comments on previous drafts of this manuscript.




Volker Koch, Wallace Nichols, Hoyt Peckham, Victor de la Toba, “Estimates of sea turtle mortality from poaching and by-catch in Bahia Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico,” Biological Conservation, 128 (2006): 327–334; Wallace J. Nichols, “Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles in Baja California, Mexico” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Arizona, 2003). Sea turtle numbers have steadily decreased since the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries because of maritime and terrestrial hunting for food and commercial purposes. This essay documents the impact that the Gold Rush had on sea turtle and Galapagos tortoise populations.


Scott Stine, “Hunting and the Faunal Landscape: Subsistence and Commercial Venery in Early California” (M.A. thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1980), 1–139. Stine's unpublished masters thesis provides an excellent description of the exploitation of native and domestic fauna throughout the San Francisco Bay region. Guy McClellan, The Golden State: A History of the Region West of the Rocky Mountains; Embracing California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Washington Territory, British Columbia, and Alaska (Philadelphia: William Flint & Company, 1872), 342–344; William Health Davis, Seventy-Five Years in California (San Francisco: A.J. Leary, 1929), 395; Zooarchaeological evidence from the San Francisco Bay Area and greater California region indicates that cattle dominate the assemblages at many pre-Gold Rush sites. Barbara Voss, The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 236–239; Stephen W. Silliman, Lost Laborers in Colonial California (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2004), 159; Thomas A. Wake, “Social Implications of Mammal Remains from Fort Ross, California,” in Proceedings of the Society for California Archaeology, 7 (1994), 23; Sherri Gust, “Faunal Analysis and Butchering,” in Jay D. Frierman, ed., The Ontiveros Adobe: Early Rancho Life in Alta California (Santa Fe Springs: Greenwood and Associates, 1982), 1–222; Historical documentation describes that sheep were primarily utilized for wool during the early and mid-nineteenth century, with upwards of 360,000 pounds of wool exported from California in 1855. McClellan, The Golden State, 342. Goats are conspicuously missing from many early nineteenth century assemblages, and appear to only be consumed during periods of scare food supply. In the early 1840s, five or six goats were placed, and left alone, on Yerba Buena Island in San Francisco Bay. By 1849 hundreds of goats lived on the island, causing the creation of the colloquial term ‘Goat Island.’ Goats from the island were only taken when meat was scarce and were “considered acceptable,” during the Gold Rush. Davis, Seventy-Five Years in California, 184. Also during the Gold Rush, pigs were imported for food in large quantities to feed the bolstering population of San Francisco. Allen Pastron and Eugene Hattori, eds., The Hoff Store Site and Golf Rush Merchandise from San Francisco, California (Germantown: Society for Historical Archaeology, 1990), 82–94; “Advertisements,” Weekly Alta California, October 25, 1849.


Auguste Duhaut-Cilly, A Voyage to California and the Sandwich Islands, and Around the World in the Years 1826–1829 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 136.


Steven W. Hackel, Children of the Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis: Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California, 1769–1850 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005).


Stine, “Hunting and the Faunal Landscape,” 1–139.


Dale McCullough, The Tule Elk: Its History, Behavior, and Ecology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), 9.


David G. Ainley and T. James Lewis, “The History of the Farallon Island Marine Bird Populations, 1854–1972,” The Condor 76 (1974): 432–446; California Coastal Commission, California Coastal Resource Guide (San Francisco: State of California, 1987), 158–159; Robin W. Doughty, “San Francisco's Nineteenth-Century Egg Basket: The Farallons,” Geographical Review 61 (1971): 554–572; Charles S. Greene, “Los Farallones De Los Frayles,” The Overland Monthly XX (1892): 226–246.


Mitchell Postel, “A Lost Resource Shellfish in San Francisco Bay,” California History 67 (1988): 26–41.


The distribution of these oysters extends to New Zealand, which is why Mexican Oysters may be misleading and is placed in quotation marks.


Postel, A Lost Resource, 28; Fredric Nichols, James Cloern, Samuel Luoma, and David Peterson, “The Modification of an Estuary,” Science 231 (1986): 567–573.


Michael Josselyn, The Ecology of San Francisco Bay Tidal Marshes: A Community Profile (Washington D.C.: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1983), 53. John Skinner, An Historical Review of the Fish and Wildlife Resources of the San Francisco Bay Area (Sacramento: Resources Agency of California Department of Fish and Game, 1962), 109.




Delgado, To California By Sea: A Maritime History of the California Gold Rush (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996), 29; Oscar Lewis, Sea Routes to the Gold Fields (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949), 78; J.S. Holliday, The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981), 414–415; John E. Pomfret, ed., Journal of a Voyage from New York to Panama via Rio Valparaiso Callao & Peyta, Onboard the US Mail Steam Ship California Commanded by Cleveland Forbes California Gold Rush Voyages, 1848–1849 (San Marino: The Huntington Library, 1954), 155. As these authors describe and reflect, almost all diary entries from passengers on vessels during this time indicate that food quality was extremely poor. Additionally, although this food was shocking for the Gold Rush passengers, it was standard fare for maritime vessels during this era. In one diary account by John Stone he writes, “they were all served yesterday with pea soup, of which every pea in it had contained a black bug, and bugs and all had been boiled up together. Historian Oscar Lewis quotes a passenger on board the Canton, “[w]e receive half a pint of the stinking, rusty brackish fluid twice a day and each man disposes of it as he sees fit.” Albert G. Osbun writes on his 1849 voyage to San Francisco onboard the steamer Oregon writes, “[o]ld strong salted meat & sea biscuit with black bitter coffee & no sugar is the general bill of fare.” John Haskell Kemble, ed., The Diary of Albert G. Osbun 1849–1851 To California and the South Seas (San Marino: The Huntington Library, 1966), 21.


Along with the numerous primary historical sources documenting this, Charles Schultz provides an excellence summary of food and drink on maritime vessels headed to San Francisco during 1849. Charles R. Schultz, Forty-Niners' Round the Horn (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999), 71–99.


Quoted by historian J.S. Holliday in The World Rushed In, 414–415.


Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 94–95; Kenneth Carpenter, The History of Scurvy and Vitamin C (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 1–43.


Hopkins, “A Business Expedition,” 94. Hopkins, attempting to import sweet potatoes and onions from South America to San Francisco in early 1850 describes the difficulty in keeping produce fresh. Rotten potatoes had to be tossed into the sea constantly, and while attempting to pickle onions, “[t]he cargo steamed like compost. It bred millions of white maggots, which swarmed all of the ship, berths, lockers, cabin and all.”


Pomfret, Journal of a Voyage, 17; Walter Van Tilburg Clark, ed., The Young Argonaut Book No. 1–2 Mar 18, 1849–July 8, 1851 The Journals of Alfred Doten 1849–1903 Vol. 1 (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1973): 4, 5, 21. Doten writes of shooting sea birds and harpooning porpoises while journeying to San Francisco around Cape Horn in 1849. During the voyage of the Pacific to San Francisco in 1849, Jacob Stillman wrote of a whale hunt that almost capsized the vessel. After hooking a whale, “[t]he rest of [the whales] attracted by the struggle of their suffering comrade all kept around him, and soon we found ourselves in the middle of the whole school, rising all about us and threatening to capsize us,” eventually after many hours of struggle they were forced to abandon the hunt and settled for two killed albatrosses instead. Salvador A. Ramirez, From New York to San Francisco Via Cape Horn in 1849: The Gold Rush Voyage of the ship “Pacific” An Eyewitness Account (Carlsbad, CA: The Tentacled Press, 1985), 118–119. Garrett W. Low, traveling to San Francisco onboard the ship Washington Irving in 1851 wrote on March 31 that a penguin was caught. Kenneth Hanley, ed., From the Journal of Garrett W. Low: Gold Rush by Sea (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1941): 121, 139. Low also writes, after switching vessels in Valparaiso and now onboard the John Bertram, that on April 25, 1851, a fourteen and one-half pound “bonita,” was caught. Richard Hunt Hale wrote of enjoying, “a dainty supper of fried dolphin,” on the brig General Worth on December 21, 1849 during his voyage to San Francisco. Carolyn Hale Russ, The Log of a Forty-Niner (Boston: Goodman Brothers, Inc., 1923), 21.


Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 93–115. As documented by Chambers, when the sealing and whaling fleets arrived in the Pacific during the late eighteenth century and discovered the Galapagos Islands tortoise populations, they quickly realized and exploited nutritional benefits of capturing and storing tortoises for food during long sea voyages.


John Behler and F. Wayne King, The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), 478; Agnese Mancini and Volker Koch, “Sea Turtle Consumption and Black Market Trade in Baja California Sur, Mexico,” Endangered Species Research 7 (2009): 1–10; Kyle Houtan, John Kittinger, Amanda Lawrence, Chad Yoshinaga, V. Ray Born, and Adam Fox, “Hawksbill Sea Turtles in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands,” Chelonian Conservation and Biology 11 (2012): 117–121.


“Endangered Sea Turtles Spotted Off SF Coast,” CBS News San Francisco, last modified Aug. 7 2012, online at, accessed Oct. 5, 2013; “Boaters urged to slow after rare sea turtle spotted in Bay,”, last modified Oct. 27, 2012, online at, accessed Oct. 5, 2013.


“City Intelligence,” Daily Alta California, February 12, 1851.


“Terrapin,” Daily Alta California, September 29, 1864.




Samuel C. Upham, Voyage to California Via Cape Horn Together With Scenes in El Dorado, In the Years 1849–'50 (Philadelphia: Self-Published, 1878), 206.


Quoted by Nichols, “Biology and Conservation,” 143.


Smith, ed., The Journals, 56.


Charles Ellis, “Journal of a voyage,” 21. Many argonauts wrote of sea turtle sightings during their voyages to San Francisco. Charles Williams also wrote, onboard the Pacific, of seeing large turtles near the vessel while journeying up the South American coast to the harbor of Callao. Ramirez, From New York, 126.


Ibid. In 1848, Cleveland Forbes, onboard the steamer California, provided a passing account of a sea turtle spotting when he wrote, “saw a very large Loggerhead Turtle on the surface of the water asleep and a Bird was perched on his back taking his rest as unconcerned as possible.” Pomfret, Journal of a Voyage, 206. William B. Osborn also wrote of capturing Green turtles off the coast of Panama in 1844. William B. Osborn, “Narrative of a Visit of Six Weeks to San Francisco in 1844,” manuscript on file at the Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California (1877).


George Denham, “Journal of George Denham in Schooner Rialto on a Voyage from Holmes Hole to California,” manuscript on file at G.W. Blunt Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc. (1849): 14, accessed October 17, 2013




Clark, The Young Argonaut, 19.




Kemble, To California, 161–161. Osbun travelled throughout the Pacific as a merchant after being unsuccessful in the gold fields. In a conversation with the captain of his merchant brig Rodolph, he wrote on August 29, 1850 that, “[o]ur Green Turtle is still alive, & about as active as when we first took him. I am told he will live so for several months. He neither eats or drinks. I am also told by Capt. Pease that a species of land Tarrapin is found on the Gallipagos Islands, that will weigh 600 pounds, that it is as much as 6 men can do to carry one of them suspended on poles. They are most excellent for eating; whalers eat large quantities of them. He says he has taken them there & kept them 8 months or so on his vessel & that they were then as active & apparently as healthy as when first taken aboard … He says whalers have informed him that they have had them aboard upwards of a year, without eating or drinking & still active & healthy.” Chambers, A Sheltered Life.


David Caldwell, “The Sea Turtle Fishery of Baja California, Mexico,” California Department of Fish and Game (1963), 145.


“Water Carrying Tortoise,” Pacific Rural Press, June 11, 1881; Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 96.


“By the Light of the Moon: The Sport of Turtle Turning,” San Francisco Call, December 30, 1894, 13; Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 95.


Lewis, Sea Routes to the Gold Fields, 123.


Eventually, capturing tortoises became so popular that a noticeable decline was seen throughout the Galapagos Islands and terrapin teams were required to travel further and further inland to capture tortoises and return them to their vessels. Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 95–96. Female tortoises generally stayed closer to shore, which resulted in large losses of females during the peak of tortoise exploitation. Incidentally, this also negatively affected the rebounding of the tortoise population because of the loss of considerable numbers of reproducing females. In 1925, Charles Townsend attempted to approximate the total number tortoises captured between 1831–1868 using ships logs. He estimated that a total of 10,373 tortoises were captured during this period, with 5,432 captured during the 1840s and 1850s alone. Charles Townsend, “The Galapagos Tortoises in Their Relation to the Whaling Industry,” Zoologica IV (1925): 55–135. This number represents only a minimum estimate considering that many ship logs would record stopping in the Galapagos Islands, but not the total number of tortoises taken. From whaling ships alone, Townsend estimates that around 100,000 tortoises were taken from the islands between 1790 and 1830.


Lewis, Sea Routes to the Gold Fields, 123. In Lewis's historical summary of this period, he writes that tortoise meat was, “tender and delicately flavored meat.” Chambers research into Galapagos tortoise consumption also details the positively described taste of tortoise meat. Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 93–102.


Joseph Kendall, A Landsman's Voyage to California (San Francisco, 1935), 112–116. Kendall writes that the beaches of the Galapagos, and specifically Catham Island (now San Cristobal) where they disembarked, were littered with shells and bones or many deceased animals. As a gift for his daughters, he collected a bag of Galapagos shells to bring with him to San Francisco.




Ibid. Currency converted into contemporary U.S. dollars using: All future currency examples will be converted in this same standard.


“Reptiles,” Daily Alta California, July 25, 1858.


Lewis, Sea Routes to the Gold Fields, 157–158.


“By the Light of the Moon: The Sport of Turtle Turning,” San Francisco Call, December 20, 1894.




Charles H. Stevenson, “Report on the Coast Fisheries of Texas” in United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries Part XVII (1889 to 1891): 373–420. Stevenson writes that during the late-nineteenth century in the Gulf of Mexico, and along the Texas coast, Green turtles were taken whenever encountered. Occasionally they would be caught as by-products in bay seines, but once captured they sold for 100.72 – 377.71 dollars per dozen. Generally young Green turtles were captured in this process; this is unsurprising given that the Gulf Coast of Texas is a nesting ground for Green turtles. Adult Green turtles are recorded as being captured at Aransas Bay, Texas. In 1869, Stevenson writes that beef-packers started canning Green turtle in Aransas Bay. A factory was later established in Fulton, Texas and Green turtle canning continued there throughout the nineteenth century. Nets were used to capture the turtles while feeding, providing a more effective method of capture than flipping turtles on the beach, and then they were kept in “crawls,” which are under water pens meant to keep turtles alive and fresh for many months prior to canning. Interestingly, Stevenson writes that by 1889–1891 Green turtles were declining in abundance along the Texas coast because of the canning activities.


Clark, The Young Argonaut, 45. Historical accounts also indicate that sea turtles were imported from the Sandwich Islands (Hawaiian Islands) during this time. Houtan et al., “Hawksbill Sea Turtles,” 117–121.




John Walton Caughey, Gold is the Cornerstone (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1948), 213. William M'Collum, California As I Saw It (Santa Barbara: Talisman Press, 1960), 162. M'Collum quotes Lyman Bradley in 1850 when he writes that along with imports of Oregon and Chilean flour, and salted fish and meat from the United States, “[v]essels touching at the Gallipago Islands (“Terrapin Islands”) carry [from] there fine terrapins.” Robert Margo, Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820–1860 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 124. Margo makes a brief mention of goods imported into San Francisco during the Gold Rush, including Galapagos Islands turtle meat.


By 1848, mentions of “green turtle” being imported to San Francisco appear in early tariff notifications in Alta California newspapers. “Tariff Bill,” The California Star, November 25, 1848.


Rand Richards, Mud Blood and Gold: San Francisco in 1849 (San Francisco: Heritage House, 2009), 48. The log of the brig Vesta, bound for California during the spring of 1849, lists that over the course of two days, six “turpin,” were captured for the journey to San Francisco. Townsend, The Galapagos Tortoises, 55–135.


John S. Hittell, The Commerce and Industries of the Pacific Coast of America (San Francisco: A.L. Bancroft & Company, 1882), 367.


“Assorted Merchandise,” Daily Alta California, July 1, 1850.


“Epicure, Attention!!” Daily Alta California, February 15, 1850.


“Green Turtle,” Daily Alta California, March 14 and 15, 1850. All italicizes within this quote and all subsequent quotes reflect the original author's emphasis.




Kemble, To California, 170.


“Ho! Ye Epicures!” Daily Alta California, November 13, 1850; “Ho! Ye Epicures!” Daily Alta California, November 14, 1850; “Ho! Ye Epicures!” Daily Alta California, November 15, 1850.


“Turtle Soup,” Daily Alta California, January 21, 1851; “Turtle Soup,” Daily Alta California, January 22, 1851.


“Importations,” Daily Alta California, February 4, 1851.


Daily Alta California, February 9, 1851.


“Sporting Extraordinary,” Daily Alta California, July 28, 1851.


“Turtles,” Daily Alta California, July 14, 1851.






“Perseverance,” Daily Alta California, July 20, 1851.


“Shipping Intelligence,” Daily Alta California, October 5, 1851. “Turtle-Turtle,” Daily Alta California, October, 8, 1851.


“Green Turtle Soup Will Be Served,” Daily Alta California, October 20, 1853; “Terrapin Soup,” Daily Alta California, May 26, 1855. Considering that modern mean egg counts for sea turtle nests range among species from fifty to two hundred eggs, this must have been a large-sized female. Behler and King, The Audubon Society, 475–478.


R. E. Raimond, “Green Turtle!” Sacramento Daily Union, October 17, 1857.


“Water Carrying Tortoise,” Pacific Rural Press, June 11, 1881.


Hopkins, “A Business Expedition,” 88–96.




“Living in San Francisco,” Daily Alta California, February 13, 1851. The original newspaper article is not clear as to the species of ‘turtle’ described here. Given the contextual clues (i.e., legs), it is hypothesized that this article describes Galapagos tortoises.


“A Cargo of Terrapins,” Sacramento Transcript, March 15, 1851.


“Shipping Intelligence,” Daily Alta California, May 6, 1851; “Terrapin,” Daily Alta California, June 30, 1851.


“San Francisco Marine List,” California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences, May 17, 1855; “More Terrapins,” Sacramento Daily Union, May 15, 1855.


Depending on the size of the hold, this could vary, but 580 terrapin is substantial.


Epicurus, “Terrapin-Terrapin-Terrapin Soup,” Daily Alta California, March 26, 1854.


Hopkins, “A Business Expedition,” 91.


“Mammoth Terrapin,” Sacramento Daily Union, May 18, 1855.


“Terrapin on a Ranch,” Daily Alta California, May 26, 1855.




“Auction Sales,” Sacramento Transcript, July 2, 1850. It is important to note that native to California is the Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and the Pacific Pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata). During the Gold Rush it appears that these reptiles were not utilized or consumed in the Bay Area, especially given the native habitat of Desert tortoises in southeastern California, far from the Bay Area. Or, if they were, these records are much smaller, and virtually absent, in comparison to the robust history of sea turtle and Galapagos tortoise consumption.


“Turtle Soup,” Sacramento Transcript, January 16, 1851.


“Turtle Soup,” Sacramento Transcript, February 5, 1851.


“The Woodcock,” Sacramento Daily Union, May 16, 1851.


“Importations,” Sacramento Transcript, February 6, 1851.


Sacramento Daily Union, November 5, 1853.


“Turtle Soup,” Sacramento Daily Union, November 7, 1853.


Ibid. Throughout 1854, advertisements for Green sea turtle meals at the Orleans Hotel in Sacramento can be found. Sacramento Daily Union, March 21, 1854.


“The Terrapin Business,” Daily Alta California, May 26, 1855. “Terrapin Boarding House,” Sacramento Daily Union, May 26, 1855.




“White Mansion,” Marysville Daily Herald, May 31, 1851.


“Frank's Restaurant,” Marysville Daily Herald, December 25, 1855; Marysville Herald, December 25, 1857.


A Spanish delicacy cooked in a clay pot, also known as ‘Spanish stew.’




“Freezing A Turtle,” Marysville Daily Herald, December 11, 1855. As a note of explanation, the original author's question mark after “quadruped” possibly stems from the confusion over what to call the flippers of a sea turtle.


Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 93–104.


Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 104.


“Gallipagos Islands,” Daily Alta California, February 16, 1855.


“The Terrapin Business,” Daily Alta California, May 26, 1855.


Hopkins, “A Business Expedition,” 92.


Howard Gardiner and Dale L. Morgan, ed., In Pursuit of the Golden Dream: Reminiscences of San Francisco and the Northern and Southern Mines, 1849–1857 (Stoughton, MA: Western Hemisphere, 1970), 271.






“Peddles the Same Green Turtle to Many Restaurants,” San Francisco Call, October 11, 1896.




Albert Gunther, “Description of the Living and Extinct Races of the Gigantic Land-Tortoises. Parts I. & II. Introduction, and the Tortoises of the Galapagos Islands,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 165 (1875): 251–284; John Van Denburgh, “Expedition of the California Academy of Sciences to the Galapagos Islands, 1905–1906: The Gigantic Land Tortoises of the Galapagos Archipelago,” Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences II (1914): 203–374; Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 220. The historic and current population of Galapagos tortoises drifted to the Galapagos Islands chain from mainland South America approximately two to three million years ago as described by Adalgisa Caccone, Gabriele Gentile, James Gibbs, Thomas Fritts, Howard Snell, Jessica Betts, and Jeffrey Powell, “Phylogeography and History of the Giant Galapagos Tortoise,” Evolution 56 (2002): 2052–2066. Once on the main islands of the archipelago, additional drifting events eventually led to the evolution of several subspecies inhabiting smaller and more recent islands in the Galapagos chain. The earliest accounts of distinct subspecies on separate islands generally was based upon the shape and size of tortoise carapace, see Gunther, “Description of the Living and Extinct Races of the Gigantic Land-Tortoises.” It was not until an expedition to the Galapagos Islands in 1905–1906 that the California Academy of Sciences identified and recorded the distribution of all tortoise subspecies throughout the Galapagos Islands, see Van Denburgh 1914 and Joseph Slevin, “The Galapagos Islands A History of Their Exploration,” Occasional Papers No. XXV of the California Academy of Sciences (1959): 1–140. Samuel Garman, “The Galapagos Tortoises,” Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College XXX (1917): 1–290.


“Monster Turtles from Galapagos Islands,” Los Angeles Herald, May 19, 1901.


“Elephant Tortoises Brought From the Galapagos Group,” San Francisco Call, May 8, 1901.


Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 144–172; “Rothschilds Expedition on the Galapagos Islands,” Los Angeles Herald, April 13, 1902.


Chambers, A Sheltered Life, 218–224.


Ibid.; “Rare Finds made by California Scientists in the Galapagos Islands,” San Francisco Call, December 23, 1906; “Where Turtles Grow to Enormous Sizes,” San Francisco Call, July 24, 1909; John Van Denburgh, “Expedition of the California Academy,” 203–374; Joseph Slevin, “The Galapagos Islands,” 1–140.


Allen G. Pastron, Richard D. Ambro and Andrew Gottsfield, “Archaeological Testing Plan, 717 Battery Street Project,” prepared for MXB Battery LP, San Francisco (2010). On file at the San Francisco Planning Department, San Francisco, California; Allen G. Pastron and Richard D. Ambro, “Results of the Archaeological Testing Program at the 717 Battery Street Project, City and County of San Francisco, California,” prepared for Gardner Combs, Northwest Realty Advisors (2010). On file at the San Francisco Planning Department, San Francisco, California; Allen G. Pastron and Kale Bruner, “Final Archaeological Resources Report for the 717 Battery Street Project, City and County of San Francisco, California” (2014). Report from Archeo-Tec, Oakland, to Northwest Realty Advisors, San Francisco, California.


The humeri specimens were not able to be refitted due to fragmentation but it is believed that they are from the same humerus since they were excavated from the same context and share the same morphological characteristics. The archaeofaunal manuscript is currently in preparation for the International Journal of Historical Archaeology.

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