I enjoyed reading the responses to my Peace and Quiet post about the Tuatara Lodge cafe in Invercargill, Southland. Those responses have prompted me to do this post about tuatara (the last photo in the Peace and Quiet post showed a tuatara painted on the outside of the building).
Steve Schwartzman (Texas, USA) commented “You won’t be surprised to hear that hardly anyone outside NZ has heard of that little animal.”
He provided a link to a photo he’d taken during a visit to NZ – with his permission I’m including it here. Taken by Steve Schwartzman at Zealandia Ecosanctuary in Wellington on February 21, 2015.
THIS is a tuatara!! Click on the photo to enlarge
— from New Zealand: When isn’t a “lizard” a lizard? by Steve Schwartzman
— note: the coloured beads are for identification and they’re easily removed
Tuatara are commonly referred to as living fossils from the age of the dinosaurs. They are reptiles but not lizards, and they’re only found in NZ.
I’ve previously posted about tuatara, including photos taken in the Tuatarium at Southland Museum in Invercargill: Into the Tuatarium (note: the Southland Musuem has now closed due to earthquake risk – the tuatara can only be viewed from outside)
In another great comment, grandmother Ellen “Gem” (USA) told me about how much she and her young grandson Benjamin enjoyed learning about tuatara after reading Into the Tuatarium, to quote..
“It was perhaps a little more than a year ago when you featured a post about the Tuatara that captivated Benjamin. I remember it well because he became such a fan of this ancient creature and we enjoyed our researched findings about them. So much so, that I purchased a stuffed toy replica for him from a New Zealand store! It remains one of his favorites. “Tut” has been the star at several preschool show and tell events at two different schools. Benjamin is always so proud when sharing with others the, unknown to them, Tuatara…he even taught his teachers!”
concise introduction from Zealandia Ecosanctuary, Wellington
Tuatara: it’s a reptile, not a lizard!
extensive article from New Zealand Geographic
Tuatara – a survivor from the dinosaur age
video clip/talk – a keeper handling lots of different tuatara at Auckland Zoo
Zoo Tales – Truly unique tuatara
excellent article from San Diego Zoo
Tuatara – Living Fossils
Text by Liz from Exploring Colour (2019). Photo by Steve Schwartzman