but probably a group of related individuals

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ironman2012, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. ironman2012 Senior Member

    The scenario that emerges, conclude the researchers, is of all the Alcedo tortoises getting blown off the volcano at the time of eruption except for the lone, lucky lineage, which could have been as small as a single pregnant tortoise, but probably a group of related individuals.

    (This comes from October 2, 2003 Did Galápagos Turtle Lineage Survive Ancient Blast? in National Geographic.)

    I think this sentence means the scenario is all tortoises died execpt for one which could have been a pregnant tortoise. But I don't understand the structure of the bold part. What is the subject? What is the relation between it and its preceeding sentence?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    Strictly it should be 'but was probably . . .' - I'd add 'was' if I was editing this. The lucky lineage (which survived) could have been one pregnant tortoise, but (it) was probably a group of related tortoises.
  3. ironman2012 Senior Member

    Thank you! Can I understand it this way: The lucky lineage could have been one pregnant tortoise, or it could have been a group of related tortoises?
  4. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    Right, but you are losing the original's suggestion that it is more likely to have been a group than a single tortoise.

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