Ancient Reptiles of New Zealand's Isles: The Tuataras

Along the islands near the coast of New Zealand lives a rare reptilian species—the tuatara. Tuatara means "peaks on the back” and comes from the Maori people native to New Zealand.

These critters look like lizards but they are not. In fact, they belong to their own reptile group. Tuataras have gray or greenish skin, like most lizards, but their skulls and skeletons are unique. They also grow slower than other lizards.

Tuataras are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and hunt at night. They like to eat insects, frogs, snails, birds, and smaller lizards. Tuataras' sharp teeth help them to tear through their prey.

Tuataras are similar to their ancestors who lived 200 million years ago. Scientists call them “living fossils” because they haven’t changed much over the years.

Tuataras take about 13 years to reach adulthood and can live for more than 70 years, unlike other lizards that only live for a few years. They are a cool and unique species!

[Source: Reptiles]