New Zealand

Postcard courtesy of The Tommei Family

New Zealand's most distinctive creature and a living relic of a period dating back 200 million years. Tuatara are the only members of a group of reptiles called Sphenodon which is Latin for 'wedge tooth'. Tuatara are 'taonga', a natural treasure of New Zealand. 'Tuatara' ia a Maori word meaning 'spiny back'. The female has smaller spines than the male. These spines are soft to touch. We touched Henry,who is more than 100 years old and lives with his friends, at our local museum. His spines are made from the same material as your fingernail but are not as hard. We thought that his back felt bumpy!

Caption: Tuatara - Sphenodon punctatus


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