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Tuatara were once found across the New Zealand mainland, but are now almost exclusively confined to offshore islands. Tuatara grow and reproduce slowly, and may potentially live for up to 100 years or more. The tuatara is a medium-sized reptile and superficially resembles a lizard in appearance. Also known as beak-head, Brothers Island tuatara, common tuatara, Cook Strait tuatara, Gunther’s tuatara, Günther’s tuatara, sphenodon.
Synonyms Hatteria punctata, Sphenodon guntheri, Sphenodon punctatum. Its diet includes a variety of small animals, particularly invertebrates such as beetles, crickets and other large insects. Most prey is seized in the tuatara’s mouth and crushed between its jaws. At this time, males become territorial and will attempt to warn off intruders by inflating their bodies and raising their crests.
A further threat to the tuatara may come from climate change. 473 adults, and most Brothers Island tuatara are confined to just 2. 2 hectares of North Brother Island. Top Tuatara conservationA range of conservation measures are in place to try and save this rare and unique reptile. Captive incubation of wild eggs is also playing a major role in tuatara conservation. Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.
Susan Keall and Nicola Nelson, Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington. EndemicA species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area. The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Herpetology: An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. Tuatara Captive Management Plan and Husbandry Manual.
Lizards: Windows to the Evolution of Diversity. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 4: 89-97. Male-biased sex ratio in a small tuatara population. Skeletochronological data on the growth, age, and population structure of the tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus, on Stephens and Lady Alice Islands, New Zealand. Demographic effects of temperature-dependent sex determination: will tuatara survive global warming? Predicting the fate of a living fossil: how will global warming affect sex determination and hatching phenology in tuatara?