A rare giant tortoise that has evolved independently of other tortoises on the remote Galápagos Islands is to feature in a special New Year's Day race against a hare, in only the second such showdown in history.
The tortoise, named Speedy Gonzales by local Ecuadoreans, is the result of a mystery breeding program that has resulted in the animal developing the physique of a 100-meter sprinter, and the enthusiasm necessary to take part.
Scientists made some minor physiological changes to Speedy, during the 6-month project, including scaling down the animal's system from four legs to just two.
Although slightly awkward at first, Speedy has developed a real aptitude for sprinting, and says he is confident of beating a mere hare.
Galápagoean tortoises usually weigh in the region of 350 to 400 kilograms, but Speedy has been put through an extensive training regime, and is currently down to 80 kilograms.
The 15-km race around the island of Isabela will take place at 5pm, and, based on trials already run, should last around 8 minutes.
In the only previous encounter of this kind, another tortoise also managed to beat a hare to the finish line, when the latter became complacent and took a nap, allowing the former to edge closer and closer to victory.
There'll be no such complacency today, however, according to Speedy.
"I'm going to annihilate that wabbit!"