Things you did not know about NZ Wildlife – Tuatara

Tuatara New Zealand
Image by Nel Botha from Pixabay

Tuatara is a native lizard in New Zealand that comes from a distinct lineage, the order Rhynchocephalia – an order that thrived around 200 million years ago.

They are often described as “living fossils” because they have retained many characteristics from species that were alive during the dinosaur era.

Tuatara are New Zealand’s largest reptile, with adult males measuring up to about a half metre in length and weighing up to 1.5 kg when fully grown.

The male has a distinctive crest of spines running along the neck and down the back, which he can fan out to attract females or when fighting with other males.

The tuatara also has a third eye known as a parietal eye on the top of its head.

The most famous tuatara is Henry who became a father for the first time aged 111!!!!  You can visit Henry at the Southland Museum.