It’s time for a reptilian head-to-head! We’re making friends with some lesser known reptiles in this month’s competition, so let’s get to know a little more about them before picking sides!
Tuataras may look like an iguana’s long lost cousin, but they are actually from a completely separate lineage of reptiles. They are the only surviving members of the order Rhynchocephalia (‘beak-heads’).
Rhynchocephalians are distinguished from squamates by a number of traits. These include gastralia (abdominal “ribs”, also present in living crocodilians), a narrow quadrate bone, an enclosed or partially enclosed temporal fenestra (an opening of the skull), the placement of jugal bones, and a large coronoid process present on the lower jaw.
Tuataras have the slowest development of any living reptile, continuing to grow larger for the first 35 years of their lives! Their average lifespan is 60 years, with some living over 100 years in captivity. A tuatara named Henry, living in New Zealand’s Southland Museum, is still going strong at 120 years old!
Tuataras are endemic to New Zealand, and even there they were extinct everywhere except the offshore islands until 2008, when a hatchling was discovered in the North Island’s wildlife sanctuary “Zealandia.”
Swag: The top scoring player on the winning team wins a t-shirt, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place on the winning team will each also win a sticker/magnet set.