The Tuatara: A Living Fossil That Defies Categorization

Bosbaba

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The tuatara [has a] remnant 'third eye'. Sadly this is not visible at all in mature specimens. We have a stuffed one here that is about 30 years old and it just looks like a rather dull smallish iguana. From a taxonomic point of view this animal is very interesting as it is on its own evolutionary limb, separate from crocodilia, modern lizards and snakes.
 
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oll_lewis

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Tuataras

Tuataras (Sphenodon punctatus and Sphenodon guntheri ) are not dinosaus though, they are a living fossil and were around in their current form around the same time as the dinosaus but are not bird hipped so are not dinosaurs (capesh?).

Tuataras are in danger of extinction as they are now only found on a few isolated islands in new zealand. :sad: mind you this has probably been the state of affairs for several hundred years and they're baring with it at the moment.

everything you might want to know about Tuataras
Link is dead. The MIA webpage can be accessed via the Wayback Machine:
https://web.archive.org/web/20031023011413/http://www.kcc.org.nz/animals/tuatara.asp
 

ramonmercado

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Dino-aged Reptile Makes a Comeback

The world's oldest lizard-like reptile, with roots dating back to the Triassic period, has been found breeding again for the first time in 200 years
By Jaya Jiwatram

Tuatara: Before the close of this century, the tuatara may lose the first half of its topical designation and become, simply, a fossil. Climate change will be responsible for raising the soil temperature in its remaining island habitats around New Zealand to the point at which female hatchlings cannot survive. After the introduction of rats to the mainland by early explorers, the tuatara's population was set on a course toward extinction. Now its only remaining members there are in a fenced wildlife sanctuary. This cousin of both lizards and snakes is the only remaining member of an order of reptiles stretching back 200 million years. It is perhaps most curiously known for the third eye set on top of its skull, the exact function of which is largely speculative. While it is connected to the brain by a dedicated nerve, the parietal eye is covered with scales and is hidden from view soon after birth, leading some to believe it is responsible for maintaining circadian rhythms. lizardb0y (CC Licensed)

He is greenish brown, has dragon scales for skin, grows up to 32 inches and is the world's last remaining lizard-like reptile that has a lineage dating back to about 225 million years when dinosaurs still roamed the earth—he's a tuatara and he's making a comeback. A species native to New Zealand, the tuatara was spotted nesting in a sanctuary close to Wellington last week, the first such sighting in 200 years. Staff at the 620-acre Karori Wildlife Sanctuary stumbled upon four white, leathery ping-pong sized tuatara eggs during routine maintenance work at the end of last week.



Tuatara Eggs: Karori SanctuaryA rare find, the nest is the first concrete proof that tuatara are breeding again, said sanctuary officials of the species that, unlike other reptiles, has two rows of top teeth and a light-sensitive "third eye" on its forehead, which is visible for about six months when it hatches. In an effort to save the species that once flourished in the Mesozoic Era and almost neared extinction in the 1700s because of the introduction of predators like rats, the Karori Sanctuary created 70 tuatara in 2005 and another 130 in 2007, before releasing them into the wild. At the moment, tuatara can only be found living in the wild in 32 offshore islands that have been removed of possible predators.

Sanctuary officials said the eggs were most likely laid a year ago and that there could be more since an average nest usually contains around 10 eggs. If incubated properly, the eggs, which have been left at its original location to avoid any further disturbance, should hatch some time between now and March.
www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2008-11/ ... s-comeback
 
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PeteByrdie

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Ten fun facts about the tuatara.

Of particular note, they live in New Zealand, they're unusually long lived (although they usually move very slowly), they have a third eye (of sorts), and although they look like lizards, they are the only extant representatives of a separate, ancient lineage of reptiles.
 
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EnolaGaia

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Newly published research shows the tuatara's uniqueness extends down to the genomic level.
Genomic Study Reveals New Zealand's Tuatara Is Like No Other Animal on The Planet

In the evolutionary tree of life, the lizard-like tuatara from New Zealand is on a branch all to itself.

In the time of the dinosaurs, this extraordinary animal had lots of relatives all around the world, and yet now, there's nothing else like it on Earth.

According to new sequencing of the tuatara's entire genome - one of the largest on record and 50 percent larger than the human genome - it appears this strange creature is neither lizard, bird, nor mammal. Rather, it's some strange amalgamation of all three.

According to the authors of the new study, the animal's genomic architecture is unlike anything previously reported.

"The tuatara genome contained about 4 percent jumping genes that are common in reptiles, about 10 percent common in monotremes (platypus and echidna) and less than 1 percent common in placental mammals such as humans," says biologist David Adelson from the University of Adelaide, Australia.

"This was a highly unusual observation and indicated that the tuatara genome is an odd combination of both mammalian and reptilian [including bird] components."

Scientists already knew the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) was something else, but this new research suggests it's even more unique than we suspected.

Found solely in New Zealand, the tuatara - which does greatly resemble a lizard to the untrained eye - is considered a taonga, or 'special treasure' for the local Māori. And for good reason.

These nocturnal creatures can live for a century, withstand super cold temperatures, hold their breath for as long as an hour, and see light out of a third 'parietal eye' on their heads.

Today, the species' closest relatives are snakes and lizards, but to call them relatives is a bit like calling a kangaroo a relative of humans. Their common ancestor actually goes back some 250 million years. ...
FULL STORY:
https://www.sciencealert.com/the-tu...r-lizard-nor-mammal-it-s-a-strange-in-between

PUBLISHED REPORT:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2561-9#Abs1
 

AlchoPwn

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Oh yeah, the Tuataras. They are among the slowest and dumbest animals alive. I had no idea that they had such a complex taxonomy to classify. How intriguing!
 
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