Tuatara: Living Fossils

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
tuatara lizard from New Zealand
Hi, I'm Terry Tuatara, I breathe only once per hour!
The tuatara is New Zealand's famous gift to the World because it is the only survivor of an ancient group of reptiles that roamed the earth at the same time as dinosaurs.

The relatives of tuatara died out about 60 million years ago which is why the tuatara is called a ‘living fossil’.

Tuatara are famous for feeding on the New Zealand Weta but they predominantly prey on; including beetles, crickets, and spiders.

Their diet also consists of frogs, lizards, and bird's eggs and chicks like baby petrel which they find unprotected in nest burrows.

tuatara eating a weta
Weta ya reckon? Nice picture?
Tuatara once lived throughout the mainland of New Zealand but rats and people drove them to extinction there.

They are now found only on 37 off-shore islands and mainland islands and specific entities like the Karori Sanctuary.

There are two species. Sphenodon punctatus is the Cook Strait tuatara which live on Stephen's Island in the Marlborough Sounds.

The Northern tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus punctatus, is a sub-species which live on offshore islands around the north of the North Island.

The total tuatara population on all these islands is estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000.

tuatara eating a bird
You wanna share my baby Petrel?
Tuatara are are cousins with Komodo Dragons, in the sense they are living relatives of the ancient dinosaurs.

Extra for Experts: Tuatara are known to have a low sex drive - this Tuatara took one hundred years before he popped his cherry!

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