Rare, prehistoric-age reptile found nesting in New Zealand

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Rare, prehistoric-age reptile found nesting in New Zealand

Post by SolitaryHowl » Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:09 pm

Yahoo News...
By The Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Officials say a rare reptile with lineage dating back to the dinosaur age has been found nesting on the New Zealand mainland for the first time in about 200 years.

Four leathery, white eggs from an indigenous tuatara were found by staff at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellington, during routine maintenance work Friday.

Conservation manager Rouen Empson says the nest proves that the animals are breeding and suggests there may be more.

Empson says baby tuatara could be born any time between now and March.

Zoologists say tuatara are dragon-like reptiles that grow to up to 80 centimetres.

They say the reptiles are the last descendants of a species that walked the earth with the dinosaurs more than 200 million years ago.

They have unique characteristics, such as two rows of top teeth closing over one row at the bottom. They also have a pronounced parietal eye, a light-sensitive pineal gland on the top of the skull. This white patch of skin - called its "third eye" - slowly disappears as they mature.

A native species to New Zealand, tuatara were nearly extinct on the country's three main islands by the late 1700s due to the introduction of predators such as rats. They still live in the wild on 32 small offshore islands cleared of predators.

A population of 70 tuatara was established at the Karori Sanctuary in 2005. Another 130 were released in the sanctuary in 2007.

The sanctuary was established to breed native birds, insects and other creatures securely behind a predator-proof fence.

Empson said that the four eggs - the size of pingpong balls - were unearthed Friday but that there were likely more because the average nest contains around ten eggs.

The eggs were immediately covered up again to avoid disturbing incubation.
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Re: Rare, prehistoric-age reptile found nesting in New Zealand

Post by TimberWolfie » Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:19 pm

Wow. Scientists might have made an interesting discovery! Thank you Solitary for bringing this piece of news to our attention! :mrgreen:
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Re: Rare, prehistoric-age reptile found nesting in New Zealand

Post by The White Wolf » Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:00 am

That is very interesting.It piques my curiosity that these creatures are still alive.It's amazing that although barely surviving from the past centuries they are found today.Unfortunately the numbers of the tuatara need to be enhanced and I thank the people at the sanctuary for finding the eggs and helping them do so. I was also curious as to what the creature looked like so here are some photographs:

http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/i ... qualityall

I'd also like to thank you solitary as well for bringing this article to our attention.It's amazing what we can find out there.
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Re: Rare, prehistoric-age reptile found nesting in New Zealand

Post by Jwb187 » Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:20 pm

I've known about the Tuatara for a long time, they are very rare but really cool. They live a long time, so it is good too see they are nesting.
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