Wednesday, 14 October 2015


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 like the Karori Sanctuary. Total tuatara population on all these islands is estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000.  


There are two species. Sphenodon punctatus is the Cook Strait tuatarawhich live on Stephen's Island in the Marlborough Sounds. The tuatara is famous because it is the only survivor of an ancient group of reptiles that roamed the earth at the same time as dinosaurs. It hasn't changed much in over 225 million years! The relatives of tuatara died out about 60 million years ago which is why the tuatara is called a ‘living fossil’.

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