Native Methuselah

“The animal that may well be New Zealand’s most bizarrely instructive species at first glance looks surprisingly humdrum,” writes The New York Times’ Natalie Angier. “The tuatara — whose name comes from the Maori language and means ‘peaks on the back’ — is not an iguana, is not a lizard, is not like any other reptile alive today.” Some interesting facts: “Researchers have found that tuatara match and possibly exceed in attainable life span that other Methuselah of the animal kingdom, the giant tortoise. ‘Tuataras routinely live to 1, and I couldn’t tell you they don’t live to 15, 2 years or even more,’ Dr Charles Daugherty of the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution at Victoria University says. They live, and live it up. ‘We know there are females that are still reproducing in their 8s,’ Daugherty says. Today maybe 5, survive and are considered a national treasure; a vast majority live on Stephens Island. During mating season … They tear at each other’s crests and toes, they trade parasites. They fight for land and fertile females, and if they must fight to the death, well, they are tuataras: they can do it in cold blood.”


Tags: giant tortoise  New York Times (The)  Stephens Island  Tuatara  Victoria University  

New Zealanders Turn over Their Guns

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