Scientific name: Sphenodon Punctatus

Tuataras are a type of creature which live on small islands off New Zealand. They first appeared on the endangered species list in 1895 and zoos must have strict regulations if they are to house these creatures. Incidentally they have only been availabe for public viewings recently and the islands they live on are almost inaccesible.

The tuataras have various colours such as grey, olive, or a brickish red colour. Males are generally larger and an average size is about 50cm. They have internal ears with two openings on either side of their heads to show for this. Tuataras also have what is generally called a 'third eye' which contains a retina and works like a normal eye; the reason for this eye is not fully understood, maybe as an overhead view when predators come so that the tuatara doesn't have to move in order to look at the predator, nevertheless a scale grows over it when the tuatara reaches maturity.

Unlike all other living toothed reptiles, the tuatara's teeth are fused to the jaw bone making it unique this partly due to it coming from the dinosaur family Rhynchocephalia, this in fact makes the tuatara the only living reptile alive today which is related to this family tree. All the other members of this family went extinct 60 million years ago. Due to this the tuatara has been called a living fossil much like a coelacanth.

The tuatara has a very slow metabolism and has a very longlife span. It's not uncommon for an individual to live for over 100 years. It is the last link of a species from the past and must be preserved.

some information taken from:$narrative.html

Tu`a*ta"ra (?), n. [Maori tuatàra; tua on the farther side (the back) + tara spine.]

A large iguanalike reptile (Sphenodon punctatum) formerly common in New Zealand, but now confined to certain islets near the coast. It reaches a length of two and a half feet, is dark olive-green with small white or yellowish specks on the sides, and has yellow spines along the back, except on the neck.


© Webster 1913

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