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LAST Species of Sphenodontia - New Zealand
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ChapterhouseInc
S 46° 24.346 E 168° 21.226
59G E 296602 N 4857464
Quick Description: Located in front of the Southland Museum, this Tuatara statue represents the last remaining species of Sphenodontia.
Location: New Zealand
Date Posted: 3/11/2010 12:54:51 PM
Waymark Code: WM8CCJ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member kJfishman
Views: 7

Long Description:
Tuatara - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The tuatara is a reptile endemic to New Zealand which, though it resembles most lizards, is actually part of a distinct lineage, order Sphenodontia. The two species of tuatara are the only surviving members of its order, which flourished around 200 million years ago. Their most recent common ancestor with any other extant group is with the squamates (lizards and snakes). For this reason, tuatara are of great interest in the study of the evolution of lizards and snakes, and for the reconstruction of the appearance and habits of the earliest diapsids (the group that also includes birds and crocodiles).

Tuatara are greenish brown, and measure up to 80 cm (31 in) from head to tail-tip with a spiny crest along the back, especially pronounced in males. Their dentition, in which two rows of teeth in the upper jaw overlap one row on the lower jaw, is unique among living species. They are further unusual in having a pronounced parietal eye, dubbed the "third eye", whose current function is a subject of ongoing research. They are able to hear although no external ear is present, and have a number of unique features in their skeleton, some of them apparently evolutionarily retained from fish. Although tuatara are sometimes called "living fossils", recent taxonomic and molecular work has shown that they have changed significantly since the Mesozoic era.

The name "tuatara" derives from the Maori language, and means "peaks on the back". As with many other Maori loanwords, the plural form is now generally the same as the singular in formal New Zealand English usage. "Tuataras" remains common in less formal speech, particularly among older speakers. The tuatara has been classified as an endangered species since 1895 (the second species, S. guntheri, was not recognised until 1989). Tuatara, like many of New Zealand's native animals, are threatened by habitat loss and introduced predators like the Polynesian Rat (Rattus exulans). They were extinct on the mainland, with the remaining populations confined to 32 offshore islands, until the first mainland release into the heavily fenced and monitored Karori Sanctuary in 2005.

During routine maintenance work at Karori Sanctuary in late 2008, a tuatara nest was uncovered, with a hatchling found the following autumn. This is thought to be the first case of tuatara successfully breeding on the New Zealand mainland in over 200 years, outside of captive rearing facilities.

(visit link)
Tuatara of Southland
The statue was commissioned by the Combined Invercargill Rotary Clubs as a Millennium project.

Funded by the Invercargill Rotary Ckubs, Invercargill City Council, Community trust of Southland

Formally unveiled on the 30th April 2000 by his Worship the Mayor Tim Shadbolt.
Thanks to Dunbar Loop for posting WM73TV (
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