Tuatara Sphenodon punctatus

Tuatara
Tuatara
Despite its outward resemblance to the lizard family, the Tuatara is a "living fossil", the only living member of the order Rhynchocephalia, related to dinosaurs. Endemic to New Zealand, it has attributes of lizard, bird, crocodile and turtle features in is primitive anatomy. Once classified as two species, both from islands in the north: the rare Northern Tuatara shown and the even rarer (similar-looking) Brother's Island species, Sphenodon guntheri, they are again considered as one species with regional variants. Like much of New Zealand's land-dwelling fauna, Tuatara were decimated by rats and other introduced mammals. There have been several captive breeding programmes with reintroduction to island sanctuaries after eradiction of rats. Tuatara grow and mature slowly, up to 2 feet in length, and typically live over 60 years in the wild and well over 100 years in captivity.