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Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Kingdom Animalia
Class Information
Class Sauropsida
Order Information
Order Sphenodontia
Family Information
Family Sphenodontidae
Genus Information
Genus Sphenodon
Population statistics

Tuatara is a reptile found in New Zealand and represented by two living species Sphenodon punctatus and Sphenodon guntheri. The word "tuatara" is derived from the language of the Māori people (indigenous people of New Zealand), which means spine-bearer.[1] It is found in 32 offshore islands free of rodents and mammalian predators.[2]

Sphenodon is brownish or greenish animal.[1] Males are larger in size than females. The average length of an adult male is approximately 61 cm and adult females are 45 cm in length.[3] The snout of the animal is long and the jaws are powerful. The four limbs are strongly built and the feet are partially webbed each having five toes. Each toe has a sharp claw. These animals weigh about one kilogram.[1] A characteristic of this animal is parietal eye the purpose of which is believed to help with thermoregulation.[3] The pineal eye is also known as third eye which is visible in young animals, but it becomes covered with skin in adults.[1] Tuatara have the slowest growth rates among reptiles.[3]

According to evolutionary scientists, these animals are "living fossils".[4] Evolutionists claim the tuatara survived for 220 million years.[5] This view is criticized and rejected by creationist scientists. Margaret Helder, Ph.D., writes:[1]

How is it that the tuatara, an animal with poor competitive abilities, was able to survive so long while more aggressive animals like the dinosaurs died off? It was the tuataras’ difficulties in competing with mammals like rats, for example, that ended in the elimination of the tuatara from the larger New Zealand islands. This was after the introduction of Europeans and their animals in the nineteenth century. A small population of so unaggressive an animal might survive several thousand years, but the idea that it could survive millions of years after all similar creatures had died out seems unreasonable.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Margaret Helder Tantalizing tuatara: The attraction of this spiky reptile lies in an idea! Answersingenesis.org
  2. Facts about tuatara Department of Conservation, Government of New Zealand
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Cree, Alison. 2002. Tuatara. In: Halliday, Tim and Adler, Kraig (eds.), The new encyclopedia of reptiles and amphibians, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 210-211. ISBN 0-19-852507-9
  4. The Profusion of Living Fossils Institute For Creation Research
  5. Russell, Matt (August, 1998). Tuatara, Relics of a Lost Age. Cold Blooded News. Colorado Herpetological Society.

External links